Friday, June 10, 2011

Cheaper to Keep Her - Avoiding Divorce

Whaddaya mean divorce dearie?
Divorce is expensive. It is one of the top eaters of net worth. (Kids is another).

Here are the 10 top reasons for divorce as quoted by a lot of different websites: infidelity, lack of communication, abuse, financial problems, sexual incompatibility, boredom, religion, children, addiction, and varying priorities.

You can't control other people but what can you control? Yourself.
  1. Your looks and hygiene. Don't let your looks go when you get married. If you stop making an effort and change into a disgusting slob with poor hygiene, can you blame them for no longer being attracted to you? Besides soap is cheap and divorce is not.  Also, having good grooming will increase your chances of getting a job or a promotion or more customers.
  2. Communication. If you and your partner have problems with this, work on it. Use “I” statements if you are trying to tell them there's a problem, rather than making it about them. There are a lot of books out there on personal communication. Read one.
  3. Sex. Make sure you give enough of it to your spouse so they won't get frustrated.  Read and learn about sex and your bodies, you're never too old to learn something new.  Nobody knows it all.
  4. Financial problems. If you are the spendthrift, then quit it. Get out of debt. Educate yourself to do your own financial planning. Do not mooch, either. Marriage is not your personal permanent vacation at another's expense.  Even stay at home spouses can help the finances of the household by finding ways to be thrifty, keeping a good house, or providing childcare.  And if you do so, point it out (gently) so that your spouse gets that you are contributing.  However, I really think that women should work at least part time or have a business, in case we find ourselves suddenly divorced or widowed.
  5. If you are getting uncomfortable or having mood swings due to hormonal changes in menopause, there are things you can do inexpensively to correct this. Drink fenugreek or fennel tea, for example. It mimics estrogen. There are also progesterone creams you can get over the counter, but they are not cheap. Note, however, that there are folks who think the whole idea of a hormone “deficiency” during menopause needing to be "corrected" is a crock of crap concocted by the pharma industry. So you be your own judge, and read up on it. I just think there's no reason, if you do decide to boost your own estrogen, to take horse estrogen if you can buy fennel and fenugreek in bulk from an Indian grocery for super cheap. And they taste good.
By the way, most marriages that fail do so within 3 to 5 years.  Sort of like the statistics for small businesses.  If you are doing a prenup agreement, keep that in mind and if you are putting some kind of time horizon for your spouse to become "vested" in your net worth, I'd say make it at least 5 years.

Here is an egghead report about how to predict from the beginning of your marriage whether it's likely to last. http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/Homepage/Class/Psy394Q/Behavior%20Therapy%20Class/Assigned%20Readings/Relationship%20Discord/Carrere00.pdf.

Between the statistics, what it seems to be saying is, if in telling your story of how you met, you use more positive language, you've got a better chance of lasting. I suppose you could judge your spouse's happiness in the marriage by setting a scenario up where they are asked to recount the story of how you met to someone else. If they criticize you or disagree with you in front of this person, watch out.

Since infidelity is the top cause of divorce, here are some causes of infidelity:

Lack of attention – if they feel unloved or unappreciated, or if one partner is never home.
Revenge (for the other partner's perceived or real affair)
Self-destructive streak – some people just want to mess it up for themselves. Might go with drug use.
Inability to communicate (or passive-aggression maybe): Someone wants the relationship to end but doesn't know how to say it. Makes themselves the badguy/girl by having an affair, so the other person will end it.
Proximity/Opportunity – with coed workplaces, this is pretty much an unavoidable factor.
Culture – Sometimes it's in the culture someone comes from that infidelity is expected. This may be an ethnic culture or their family culture. There is often a double standard where it's ok for men but not for women.  So you might get a guy who just thinks it's normal.

50 % of men, and 40 % of women are unfaithful during their marriages. Additionally, in industrialized Western countries, about 10 % of all people are illegitimate (their father is not who they think he is.)

If you are in a marriage where you know your spouse is cheating, and you are financially significantly better off married than if you were to divorce, you might want to consider trying to get them into counseling rather than just asking for a divorce.  Some couples also just have different ideas about other partners, but that discussion is really for someone else's blog.

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