The New York Times has an interesting article about another victim of the recession: the easy divorce. The article mentions that couples used to argue over who got the house, the assets, etc. Now they’re arguing about who gets stuck with these things – which have often depreciated in value, and can be costly to maintain, sell, or simply hang on to.
The article mentions several couples that have been either planning to divorce or in the midst of divorce before the market took a downturn. Now, in some cases, they’re forced to put the proceedings on hold, and are living under the same roof with someone they’d prefer to be separated from.
Re-Evaluating Your Motivations Towards Divorce
If nothing else, the financial situations of many couples are forcing them to think harder about the “ease” of divorce – and I’m a firm believer that most marriages can be saved. Of course it’s miserable to share your home with someone who – if things had gone differently – would’ve been out the door months ago. Take this opportunity to re-evaluate more closely the reasons for breaking up or divorcing, it may end up being just what your relationship needed. By utilizing methods of financial and personal discussion – which I also talk about in my book, Make up Don’t Break up – you may be able to come at some of your problems from a more neutral place.
Money can be the number one relationship wrecker and if money problems have helped get you into a situation where you want to divorce it may seem counter-intuitive to think that during a financial crisis you can repair your relationship. I would encourage you to put effort into re-building your relationship. If you have to share a house, you may as well try to make your partnership work.
Communication Is The Key
I recommend couples considering divorce or a break up use the “Money Love Language” that I discuss in my book, Financial Infidelity. This language is a way of thinking and talking about finances that helps you share your financial history with someone you’re becoming intimate with. Many of these conversations can be triggered by a transition in a relationship – like the financial transitions many couples find themselves in right now!
When it comes to stressful financial times, remember: both people need to know what’s going on, need to be able to give input and need to feel like they can voice their concerns. If the burden is falling on one person, the added stress of an unstable market can lead to poor decision making, including financial infidelity – where one person is making decisions, purchases or withdrawals behind the other’s back as a way of mitigating the added stress they’re feeling.
Aside from working through finances as a couple, you should also take times to do other things with each other to attempt to rebuild your relationship – watch your favorite TV show (which is free entertainment!). Listen to music together, meditate, cook dinner together, exercise together. Use these unexpected financial transitions to be open and honest in finding out what you can about the other person’s view of money.