What's the biggest issue for partners? Staying 100 percent faithful to your spouse. When I think about infidelity and how it impacts a marriage's financial situation, my first reaction is: Where is the pre-nup? Unfortunately, most people don't get a pre-nup because they are afraid to talk about money or their financial expectations of one another (and they live in a fantasy land that says divorce could never knock on their door). Ah-ha: Here's where the problem lies.
Infidelity resulting in divorce is a very complicated issue; age, assets, earning power, young children, gender bias, abuse, shame, self-esteem, all intersect at the same crossroads simultaneously. A pile up on the Jersey Turnpike in the worst blizzard might seem easy in comparison to sorting out the emotions that result from a partner being unfaithful. And finances are the arena which can cause serious anger when your partner has been unfaithful. Experiencing betrayal brings out one's true character. Will that person seek revenge? Will the betrayed party use the children as pawns, or confuse the children's best interest with their own anger? Will the partner with "the money" hold it hostage in order to get their needs met and abuse the injured party?
Sometimes as we have seen, in the public arena, money isn't the real problem; instead, it's a power issue. As we have witnessed in politics, some couples are legally married but it's really a business, not a marriage based on devotion, trust, and fidelity. It is beneficial for both parties' agenda to stay together, even if ending the union would be a better choice. When Bill Clinton was unfaithful to Hillary, do you think they discussed the possibility of divorce, and decided it would be too big of a mess to untangle?
Whether you're a politican or an average joe, money is the only tangible thing that can be used as leverage (besides children and pets). The injured party feels so powerless. Understandably, their desire to reconcile is remote, if at all. Statistics show that the divorce rate is at 50 percent, and that women financially suffer more than men after the divorce. A man's lifestyle tends to remain intact, while a woman's lifestyle takes a drastic turn downwards.
How does one manage this impending storm if there isn't a pre-nup?
The injured party has some leverage in the final legal documents; by refusing to sign a divorce decree, you might find yourself in the position of power. Having a formal separation agreement sometimes is helpful and there is no downside: in fact, it helps clear the financial waters and could protect the injured party from being further responsible for ongoing and newly acquired debts.
Make sure, even now, you know and understand everything about your joint finances, where money is spent, and where debts are accrued. The less you know, the more vulnerable you are. Keeping your own, private account may also provide some peace of mind. And, even if you currently do not have a pre-nup, you can always get one that covers the same issues and disclosures now. If you haven't had an honest talk about finances with your partner it's not too late: Having the money chat is healthy at any stage if you want to have some control and value intimacy.
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