There is No Such Thing as Divorce Insurance – Why Financial Ignorance is Far From Bliss

life ring

When I sold life insurance, I fantasized about shaking the shoulders of women who responded to a financial question with, “Oh, I don’t know any of that stuff. My husband makes the money. I just spend it.”

Outwardly, I remained professional and found restrained ways to encourage them to wake up to the danger of their situation.

What I wanted to say was this. “Why on earth do you give your power away like that?”

Often, these were the same women who ridiculed their husbands for being cheap, selfish and disrespectful towards women.

Let’s pause for a teachable moment. Um. There may be a link here. This is probably what you signed up for.

If when you were dating, your partner was secretive, patronizing, and controlling when it came to money, you had two choices:

1. Run


2. Put your entire financial life in his hands by quitting work, having multiple children with him and turning a blind eye toward all of your life-long dreams, talents, and career opportunities.

I continue to be amazed by the numbers of otherwise intelligent women who turn their brains off and go skipping happily – in an overpriced puffy wedding dress — toward door number two.

Even when a spouse is kind and trustworthy, once a woman hands over her financial life to him, inequity is the inevitable result.

In her book, The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts makes an air tight case for why women should remain in control of their financial lives, no matter what other choices they make. She points to women who use marriage and motherhood as an excuse to abdicate responsibility for their own financial well-being. It doesn’t mean that being a stay at home mom is not a positive option from some women. But intentional ignorance of your financial situation is not a smart choice for anyone.

Both partners can and should participate fully in the family finances. Also, you should remain connected to your chosen career field since stay at home parenting is a temporary position. Kids eventually grow up and have their own lives, you should too. For instance, maintain memberships in professional associations and fulfill continuing education requirements for professional certifications. Nurture professional contacts and relationships. In short, remain employable. Because at any minute you may need to jump with both feet back into the work force in the event of the death, disability or departure of a spouse.

Yes, there is life insurance and disability insurance – both of which I highly recommend. But there is no divorce insurance. And, in the case of divorce, how will you pay the bills – including attorney fees — while you do battle with the person who knows more about your assets (or lack of them) than you do?

If you ignore reality, not only are you deciding to be completely dependent for your current food, shelter, clothing etc., you are also sacrificing accumulation of assets for your retirement. Yes, your contribution of childcare and support of your spouse’s career may do wonders for the “family financial picture” of today, but Ms. Bennetts compares this to pouring millions of dollars worth of renovations into house that you don’t own. Your name is not on the deed. Or it maybe it is, if your spouse set it up that way, but do you know for sure?

Find out where you stand financially. Educate yourself. This should be a team effort between you and your spouse. You may be surprised how grateful he is to share the burden. It is the single best decision you can make because financial ignorance is far from bliss.

Image courtesy of Mixmaster

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10 Responses to There is No Such Thing as Divorce Insurance – Why Financial Ignorance is Far From Bliss

  1. John Logan says:

    The facts tell the story. The number of women filing for personal bankruptcy is up 700% since 1980 and the most common (40%) contributing factor to their loss of income is divorce. Scarier yet, one in five women who file for welfare as a result of divorce are still on welfare 5 years later. No one wants to consider the possibility of failure when they enter into marriage but when the US Census predicts that people who marry today have only a 33% of ever reaching their 25th anniversary, the risk is real.

  2. Julie says:

    Very good article. I have always handle the family finances and always will.

  3. Amber says:

    Great post, my boss is this very same woman. I mentioned to her that the state has just added hurricane coerage to automobile insurance and she says to me “I have no idea my husband handles all of that” When I was dating I handled everything and always will

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  6. JEM says:

    I agree with you.

    I have the opposite problem. My husband wanted nothing to do with our finances. He has no idea where our money is, what our budget is like, how much we are saving for retirement, or anything else. I asked him the other day how much our mortgage payment is each month and he guessed wrong by 400 bucks! I am always trying to involve him but he just isn’t interested in money. He hads his paychecks over to me each month and lets me have full control. Although I really enjoy manageing our money, I wish he showed more interest. I also worry about what would happen if I died. I love him but he is clueless.

  7. Bravo, Meredith. I love what you had to say.

    You are so right: “financial ignorance is far from bliss.”

    Studies show, however, that most women do NOT get serious about managing money until they hit a crisis…the worst time to start.

    I’ve written a book on the topic: “Prince Charming Isnt’ Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money.” And I’ve just started blogging about it. I’d love to invite you to my site.

    Keep up the great work!

    Barbara Stanny

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  9. Gabrielle says:

    Oh my God! how right this article is. I am a highly educated, ‘”ntelligent” woman that put my financial power in the hands of my husband. I never thought I could get a divorce, and now at the edge of one I find myself, unemployed, no carreer, no savings, no house..nothing!!!! and with three children.. I know he will continue supporting the children..but, what about me? while I am looking for a job I still have to pay, rent, utilities, etc. what if a get sick? I wish I could have been smarter and prepared myelf for the unthinkable.. I feel like such a fool..

  10. James Altizer says:

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense as it is almost always the man who loses financially in a divorce.

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