Divorce is a financial lawsuit, and money is the #1 culprit. When we mishandle money, lie about what we spend, or spend on things that aren’t necessary when we need to be on a budget, we have betrayed ourselves and our spouses. We have committed Financial Infidelity.
When people get divorced they are highly emotional. Divorce is the end of our personal and emotional relationship to another person. But most of the work in filing for divorce is a discussion about money, the division and assignment of assets and debts. “Why,” people ask, “is divorce about money?” The reason lies in the fact that we get our marriage licenses at a government building. The government initiates our process of tying the knot and the government ends that process, too. The government defines marriage as a financial contract.
Like with any contract, both parties are responsible to the other to perform at their best to keep the relationship in good standing. The deal points in business contracts are spelled out in detail so that both parties know when they are invalidating the contract. Not so much in marriage. The vows are centered around the emotional deal points going into the marriage but don’t address that which is at the heart of the relationship: How the marriage is going to survive and be responsible through the financing of the relationship.
Financial goals, discussions about making and saving money, the ability to consistently earn money, and the way each spouse spends money, hoards money and hides what they spend, all lead to financial betrayal of oneself and of the other spouse. This all adds up to money being the #1 reason why people get divorced.
Our guests for episode 121, Drs. Megan McCoy and Alex Melkumian, are highly credentialed marriage and family therapists whose specialty is Financial Therapy and how money impacts personal relationships. Both McCoy and Melkumian explain how our relationship to money starts early in life watching how our parents dealt with money, and also how we are wired for our perception of money. “Some people find happiness and security in saving money and living within a budget, and other people are money avoidant,” Dr. McCoy explains. “They don’t like to think about money, don’t look for opportunities to save, and get more pleasure out of rampant spending of whatever they make.”
When we marry, our relationship to money be it healthy or unhealthy shows itself because we have to work in tandem with another person. We can no longer be completely unregulated in our handling of money because we are sharing our lives with another person, including our financial lives. “We marry our financial opposites,” Dr. Melkumian states. “And in marrying our financial opposite, we are seeking to change through the influence of the other spouse’s relationship to money.”
You have to be aware of what you’re doing with money and why, in order to change. Financial Therapy will help by figuring out what emotions are tied to money: Fear, Shame, Anger, Devastation, Jealousy. Financial Therapy is the bridge between finances and mental health. Both doctors agreed that ‘we express our emotions through money’, and by digging deep into what our feelings are in reaction to money we can help turn our whole perspective around about earning money, saving money, and spending money.
With Financial Therapy we will be true to ourselves as healthy, responsible, secure financial beings, and we will no longer commit financial infidelity.