All Articles Tagged "marriage dilemmas"

How To Resolve Money Issues In Your Marriage

March 3rd, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Marriage takes more than a fancy ceremony and tearful vows to work. Heck, ask any veteran in the marital game and they’ll admit there has to be more than love to stay boo’ed up for the long haul. As arguments over coins tend to be one of the main reasons for divorce, here are some pointers on how to solve money fights in your marriage.

There Are No Dealbreakers In Marriage? Says Who?!

December 27th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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Yesterday, I was reading an otherwise great piece on “10 Things Every Single Needs To Know About Marriage.” Though, I’m already married, I suspect I don’t know everything about marriage so I clicked through to see if I should have been warned about anything beforehand.

What I read caught me by surprise:

There are no dealbreakers: When you get married you need to put all of your chips on the table and bet on your future. What we’ve learned from talking to couples who have been through all types of situations, is that there are no true dealbreakers. We’ve seen couples survive and thrive after financial crises, infidelity and more. If both of you are dedicated to the marriage you can make it work.

On one hand, I completely understand where the author is coming from. Often the “irreconcilable differences” that divorcing couples cite as a reason for their split are actually reconcilable. Remember when Kim Kardashian said she wanted to divorce Kris Humphries after 72 days because he was boring? How ridiculous. One woman cited “50 Shades of Grey” in her divorce petition. She said she’d read the book hoping it would spice up their marriage, but she realized her husband had a boring attitude toward sex and she was fed up. A Chinese man made headlines after divorcing his wife for being ugly. He says after she birthed an ugly baby, he discovered she had $100,000 in plastic surgery procedures. So, he divorced and sued her, claiming she married him under false pretenses. Another woman divorced her husband because he talked too much and would share their family affairs with his other relatives and friends.

Just this weekend, the news of one celebrity divorce filled up my “Celeb Gossip” Twitter list timeline: former Real Housewife of NYC Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy. Bethenny once gushed about marrying a “regular guy with a regular salary” who taught her that “being taken care of was emotional and not financial.” Now, the fact that “she’s very focused but he’s just not driven” led to the “extremely difficult decision” of splitting up after less than three years of marriage.

No two people have the same personality, I get that. The personality traits that first attracted us to a person may end up being the ones that irritate us the most. But, is being irritated by the personality traits of another good reason to divorce? Is the fact that he is a laid-back, laissez-faire type of guy and you’re a high-strung, no-chill type of woman really a dealbreaker? Is this something that you didn’t know about each other going into a marriage?

In most situations, spending beaucoup money on a divorce before your wedding dress is back from the cleaners is idiotic. However, there are some legitimate reasons people break their til-death-do-us-part deal.

In fact, if I had to make a list of no-questions-asked dealbreakers in a marriage: domestic violence would certainly top that list. The ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence reported that approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims. Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. Spousal abuse is serious and should not be tolerated.

On the same level as domestic violence is child abuse. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. The Executive Director of The National Marriage Project found that children who are raised in homes by a mother and a boyfriend are more likely to suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse than children who are raised by married biological parents. He writes, “In other words, one of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself in is a home that includes an unrelated male boyfriend – especially when that boyfriend is left to care for a child by himself.” However, abuse happens in homes where the mother and father are married as well. How many spouses turn their head while their child is being abused? In fact, the largest percentage of perpetrators (83.9 percent) were parents, including birth parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents.

In addition to these dangerous, violent, and life-threatening situations that can pop up in a marriage, there are other things that could be dealbreakers as well. For instance, I know a woman who found out her husband was having an ongoing affair with another man. If that doesn’t have you running for the nearest exit, then I don’t know what will. Even the Bible allows divorce if you find out your spouse is cheating. Some couples survive that, but some truly cannot.

I’m not advocating divorce in the least. I just think it’s important for a mature person to be able to distinguish what truly warrants divorce and what doesn’t. If you did your due diligence when dating then certain things should have been revealed and worked out (or walked away from) before you considered walking down the aisle anyway. After that, you commit to stay together and not break up just because someone is “bored” or “unhappy” or loads the dishwasher incorrectly.

Surely couples who have been married for decades have encountered numerous situations that have today’s newlyweds running for divorce court. The difference is that these older couples weren’t so quick to give up, so they worked through their problems and went on to have stronger marriages as a result.  Unfortunately, some things truly do not rear their grotesque, dangerous, coldhearted, fradulent heads until after you’re married and, in that case, it’s understandable why a couple call it quits.

What do you think? Are there dealbreakers in a marriage?

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Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink 

Pretty Girls Need Not Apply: Why I Would Never Hire An Attractive Nanny

November 29th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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During my visit for Thanksgiving, my mom dropped no less than four hints that she was ready for me to start having kids. I mostly ignored her because my husband and I haven’t even hit our first anniversary and therefore kids won’t be sliding out of my uterus any time soon. Still, our conversation got me thinking about the fact that I’m not financially ready for children because, when I do start having kids, I hope to be able to hire a nanny.

My husband and I don’t live near any family and I don’t plan to be a stay-at-home mom, so when we start having kids, we’re definitely going to need at least part-time help. I’ve heard too many daycare horror stories to consider sending my child to one, so in-home help seems to be the way to go.

One of my closest friends is a nanny and she seems like a total godsend for the family she cares for. When she told me what she does, I thought “Wow, I’m definitely going to need to hire someone like you!” Thinking about it some more, I decided I wouldn’t hire someone exactly like her because, in my opinion, she is way too pretty to be a nanny and I would never even consider hiring attractive help.

Would you?

It’s not that I don’t trust my husband because I definitely do. He would never even consider cheating on me. However, just because I trust him doesn’t mean I’d give him a wallet full of dollar bills and tell him to have fun at the strip club. And I certainly wouldn’t hire some hot, young girl to traipse around him taking care of our kids. I trust him, but I certainly don’t trust other random women not to try something. What if the family environment a nanny witnesses around her causes her to imagine that this is something she wants for herself, leading to all sorts of silly but real attempts at getting it for herself? It happens! Both Ethan Hawke and Robin Williams married their nannies.

Of course, a live-out (as opposed to a live-in) nanny means that she likely would never interact with my husband because by the time he comes home, she’s long gone. Still, I wouldn’t take any chances that the nanny isn’t all she seems.

Is this some sort of young, pretty girl discrimination? Probably. But there’s just something so weird about the thought of my husband witnessing some beautiful woman on a regular basis who essentially does all of the positive things I would do as a mother if I didn’t have other obligations and who doesn’t give my husband any of the headache.

AskMen.com confirms this suspicion when talking about why men love nannies:

Besides their young bodies, kept fit from chasing munchkins, men think babysitters and nannies are hot for another reason: They have kids that aren’t their own. We like the playful nature and nurturing that babies bring out in women, but hate the weight of eternal responsibility. A nanny is like a villa in accountability. You can just vacation there, play house and go home to your apartment with the rotating cast of one-nighters. Nannies already know their homes and provide a Hot young comfort their busy wives forget.

See? No way!

There doesn’t even have to be a problem in the marriage for a man to be tempted either. Dr. Tammy Nelson told YourTango.com:

Studies have shown that cheating may not be a symptom of a bad marriage. Most people cheat because of opportunity (leading marriage researcher John Gottman says this accounts for 80 percent of affairs).

And what easier opportunity than a woman who is already in the house every day? Better to eliminate that temptation by hiring a nanny that looks like his mother. In that case, it’s just another grandmother-type helping out around the house and I can deal with that. This isn’t to say young, pretty girls aren’t great nannies who would never look twice at another woman’s husband – my friend certainly wouldn’t – but I’d be very hesitant to choose a younger nanny over an older one.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that if a man is going to cheat, he’s going to cheat even if he’s married to Kennedy royalty and the help looks like Mildred “Patty” Baena. Unfortunately (and oddly), men cheat on their wives for less attractive women every day, but these men are probably known womanizers who have somehow convinced their wives that they’re reformed. In that case, it’s probably best to hire a Manny.

But for those of us married to regular guys who aren’t looking to get their rocks off with any woman with legs, an older woman (who is experienced, good with kids, willing to raise them your way, available and credentialed of course) seems to be the way to go.

What do you think? Would you hire – or not hire – a nanny based on her looks?

 Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

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Til Income Disparity Do Us Part? It’s Really Okay To Marry A Guy Who Makes Less Money Than You

November 20th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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Almost as popular as the confusing yet oft-repeated “marry someone who loves you more than you love him” advice that is stuffed down single women’s throats is the newer piece of advice: “Marry someone who makes more money than you”.

I’ve read this a lot lately on the Internet and in glossy magazines geared toward women. Article after article suggests women who make more than their husbands are doomed to an unhappy marriage and may as well begin drawing up the divorce papers.

When I read these stories, I can’t help but think: Is that where we’re at now?

It may not be intentional, but it seems that this advice aims to stoke fears in the hearts of ambitious, financially successful women. The underlying message is a baseless warning that “Happily Ever After” is only for those whose paychecks are noticeably smaller than their husband’s.

How ridiculous.

I was raised in a two-parent household where my father made so much more money than my mother that her income was deemed irrelevant. She stayed at home to homeschool my sister and I while my father worked 50-plus hours a week providing financially for our family. It was very Leave It to Beaver…until it wasn’t and, eventually, my parents divorced.

Considering the divorce rate, I highly doubt that my parents’ marriage was the only union that didn’t survive despite the man being the breadwinner. We know that there are several factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a marriage, so why are we pretending a woman making less money than her husband is the key to a fairytale ending?

Finances are important, but you’ve got to either be really selfish or without a single clue when it comes to marriage to believe that it’s all about who makes the most money. Marriage is a partnership, not a competition. Even a couple who maintains separate accounts after tying the knot would admit it’s not her money and his money, it’s their money anyway. In fact, as soon as a couple starts thinking in terms of “my money”, they’re going to have problems no matter who is contributing the most.

What makes this advice to seek out a higher-earning man the most confusing is the fact that making more money and having more money are two different things. A man who is raking in $80,000 a year yet is saddled by twice that amount in student loans certainly has less money than a woman who is pulling in $30,000 a year and is debt free. Just because a man is making more money than his woman doesn’t mean he has more money than she does. So what’s more important in that instance? Making money or having it?

Further, there is making more money than your spouse and there is making way more money than him. In a recent Atlantic Magazine article titled “The Weaker Sex” the author talks about her friend who brings in $670,000 per year at her high-powered non-profit and is married to a writer who decided to stay home for a few years upon the birth of their twins. The author talks about this couple’s problems, chalking it up to the income disparity yet all I can think about is what a mismatch they are and probably were before they got married. What does a woman whose character, education, upbringing and personal values led to her making nearly one million dollars a year at a non-profit have in common with a man who is willing to stay home to take care of children? Their problems aren’t the result of the fact that the woman out-earns her husband, she’s unhappy because she married someone who is clearly so different than herself and whom she obviously does not respect.

Marrying someone who makes more money is great if that’s important to you, but I’d think it’s even more important to marry someone who thinks about money the way you do. Instead of looking at someone’s pay stub to determine if he is eligible for your lifetime commitment, it’s better to look at those things about him that won’t change should his company fire him tomorrow.

For example, a type-A workaholic may enjoy dating a man with a laissez-faire attitude toward finances because he’s spontaneous and fun, but after you’re married, that carefree approach looks a lot less like fun and a lot more like spendthrift and needlessly blowing money. On the flipside, dating a man who is serious about putting away the bulk of his lucrative paycheck can lead you to believe you’ll get a piece of his deep dish pie after marriage only to realize later on that he doesn’t believe sharing is caring. Clearly, the way you think about money is more important to the success of your relationship than the money itself.

Though people mean well when they advise you to marry up financially, deciding to marry someone because of something as prone to change as income is basing a lifetime decision on a temporary circumstance. It’s absolutely important to know what financial situation you’re marrying into, but also remember that fortunes can change in an instant for better or worse.

While you’re comparing paystubs, you may want to take other notes as well. Is he selfish? Is he secretive about his money? Is he intent on keeping up with appearances? Does he have money put away for the future? Does he pay attention to his finances? Are you going to have to hide purchases from him? Will he hide purchases from you? Is he mired in debt? Is he on a career path? Is he committed to his job? Does he respect your work? How does he feel about unemployment (his or yours)? Do you have similar financial goals?

The answers to these questions and more are all things that are way more important to know than simply: Does he make more money than you?

What do you think? Would you marry someone who makes less money than you do?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life 

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Til Distance Do Us Part: Would You Move Out Of The Country For Your Husband’s Job?

October 16th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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It’s the stuff epic love stories are made of: You, a US born Ghanian-American, work in Ghana for a couple of years at a law firm and meet an amazing, handsome, and accomplished man with whom you share a lot in common. Not the least of which, you both work in the same profession. You get married and everyone wishes you happily ever after.

Except “ever after” includes a major dilemma that you didn’t see coming.

Today, you’re married, pregnant and living in NYC while your husband is in Ghana. He became a partner at his firm and doesn’t want to give that up to move to the States and start over. You are also a lawyer and only a rank or two under a partner where you work in NYC and you don’t want to give that up either.

So, if you’re going to raise your child together under the same roof, who moves with whom?

In 2007, researchers found that couples still view the husband’s career as “more important”. When considering a relocation, the wife often ends up being the “trailing spouse” as couples are more likely to move for the husband’s career even if the wife has a high-flying job. The study reported that when couples relocate, the man’s career tends to get a boost, while the wife’s suffers.

An earlier study found that, in many cases, women had already chosen careers that led to their roles as trailing spouses. In a typical scenario, the moving couple involves a mid-level manager husband and a wife who is a nurse or teacher. When the husband is offered a promotion that requires moving, the wife follows the husband because of the income, then has a difficult time finding employment herself.

But even when the playing field is leveled with regard to the type of job, a relocation still hurts women professionally. So why do women more often sacrifice a good career of their own for their husband’s? Researchers say:

“People still buy into the stereotypes of what it means to be a good wife. It means that caring for your children and supporting your husband’s career is viewed as a wife’s main priority.”

Today that just sounds archaic considering that 40 percent of American women are the breadwinners for their families. Women now account for 51 percent of the workers in the highest-paying sector — management, professional and related occupations.  In particular, “lawyer” ranks as one of the top-paying jobs for women.

Adding to the scenario we started with, moving to Ghana would mean having to find a new job in a new country. Though you and your husband worked for the same firm in Ghana before you were married, the firm is now saying they likely won’t rehire you because you’re married to him and he’s a partner. Of course, success and opportunities exist no matter where you are, but it could be a while until you find something professionally rewarding.

Are you, as the wife, expected to just throw away your career, home, education, professional satisfaction, family, friends, and love of your job for the love of your life — simply because of your gender? Are you supposed to be okay with being 100 percent dependent on him for survival?

Worst-case scenario is to join the more than 3.6 million couples – a 40 percent increase since 1990 — who are in long-distance marriages. Most of these couples have decided to live in different cities (or continents) for the paycheck and they see each other 1.5 times a month, on average. Technology certainly makes it easier to maintain love across the miles (check out this hug shirt!), but don’t people get married to be together? When children are involved, “commuter marriages” are even more difficult because it places an undue burden on one spouse to shoulder the child rearing.

Many couples are making it work, like writer Lisa Stromberg who writes about her long-distance marriage:

This separation has brought about a renewed commitment to our marriage and to each other. Now, we work particularly hard at understanding one another. We don’t assume, as we once did, that we know what the other is thinking or even doing. We are forced to communicate (what a concept!) in order to stay connected.

Still, nobody gets married to talk on the phone.

A compromise has to be made. Either the wife has to sacrifice her career for her husband’s or the husband has to sacrifice his career for his wife’s. Both spouses want the other to be happy, but unless they choose to live on separate continents, one is in for a big move and will likely be packing a suitcase full of resentment. Lack of enthusiasm can wreak havoc on a marriage, so it’s important to maintain perspective and understand that today is not forever. Circumstances can change in an instant. Still, this is not a cut-and-dry “what’s more important?” decision and it seems there’s not one right answer, so I’ll ask you:

What would you do? Would you move far away for your husband’s job? Or would you try to embrace it? Would it matter if you had kids? Do you think women are unfairly expected to be the “trailing spouse”?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

True (Married) Life: I Don’t Know What To Call My Husband’s Parents

September 7th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry
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Though I met them two years ago and I’ve been their daughter-in-law for almost six months, I still feel sort of awkward when I’m around my husband’s parents? Why.

Because I don’t know what to call them.

I was thinking about this the other day when my husband and I were sitting in a restaurant waiting for his parents to show up for dinner. On one hand, I was giddy. The little things about married life are fun to me like signing my new last name, introducing him as my husband to strangers and meeting the in-laws for dinner. On the other hand I was kind of unsettled. Before they got there, I told my husband, “I’m always a little bit nervous around your parents.” He asked why but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Sitting there at dinner that day, I suddenly realized why: I don’t know how to address them and, as long as I’ve known them, I’ve never called them….anything. If this sounds impossibly awkward, that’s because it is. And truthfully, I blame my parents.

When I was growing up, my parents taught me to refer to adults by Mr-or-Mrs-Last-Name. If that person was family, I could call them by their first name as long as I used “Aunt” “Uncle” or “Cousin” before that name. Now that I’m an adult, I still refer to adults born in earlier generations as Mr-or-Mrs-Last-Name out of respect.

But wouldn’t it be weird to refer to my new in-laws as “Mr. and Mrs. Henry?” That just sounds cold and distant to me.

Of course using their (well, our) last name isn’t my only option. I could also call them Mom and Dad, but I’ve always thought calling anyone other than my parents “Mom” or “Dad” was odd. In fact, when I was a teen in the church youth group, some of the other kids would call a few of our adult group leaders “Mom” or “Dad” (as in their spiritual mom or dad I guess). I never got into that. For one, my mom went to the church, so calling another woman “Mom” no matter how much I admired or respected that woman seemed ridiculous. Also, my dad was very much in my life and it seemed disingenuous to call someone else “Dad” because no one else was a dad to me.

But now that I’m married, does that somehow make my husband’s parents my “Mom” and “Dad” too? I guess so, but them that just seems strange and kinda old school.

When my dad’s father was still alive and my parents were married, my mom always called my grandfather “Dad”. That never seemed weird to me back then because that’s all she ever called him. In fact, that’s how I learned that your spouse’s parents become your in-laws after marriage. When my parents divorced and my mother remarried a decade later, I marveled at how quickly and easily she began referring to my stepdad’s parents as “Mom” and “Dad”. I’m just not comfortable doing that with my own in-laws. When I overthink it, the “we’re married so let’s share parents” thing actually seems archaic.

Then there’s always the option of calling them by their first name. I noticed my husband’s brother’s wife does that. A few of my married friends call their in-laws by their first name too, but that just seems too comfortable for me. Though his parents probably wouldn’t have a problem with it, my own parents pretty much ingrained in me that calling an older adult by his or her first name is borderline disrespectful.

My husband doesn’t seem to have an issue with the in-law thing. My dad is passed away now, but he flips back and forth between calling my mother “Mom” and calling her by her first name. It sounds natural coming from him, and I can’t figure out why I’m so awkward when it comes to his parents.

For now, I just try to avoid using their names. When we are together, I walk across the room rather than call out a name to get their attention or I wait until they know I’m talking to them. Of course there are those times when they don’t realize I’m talking to them, so when I don’t get a response, I just pretend I didn’t say anything and hope no one else noticed. Sometimes, I direct the question through my husband, “ask your mom…” or “does your dad…” — much like people do when they don’t know someone’s name, but need their attention. Blundering I know, but it works so far.

Thinking about it now, I’m not sure how long I can keep this up before I make an executive decision on how I will refer to them. It’s a small thing and something that didn’t even occur to me until recently, but I’m curious what other people think. How do you (or would you) refer to your in-laws? First name? Mom and Dad? Mr. and Mrs.? Hey You?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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