Divorce happens. Staying together “for the sake of the children,” belongs for the most part to another era.
While psychologists are divided over whether staying in a rocky marriage is the right thing to do, economists are nearly universal in their opinion that divorce is bad economically.
First, there's the actual cost of getting a divorce. In most cases, both spouses hire their own lawyers. Both parties end up with legal bills.
The web site Maritalstatus.com recently reported the average cost of a divorce in the U.S. to be about about $20,000. Throw in alimony payments that one party might get stuck with and the costs can grow even higher.
Next comes the settlement. When living as a couple, a husband and wife might both be earning incomes. But they pool their money to pay for a mortgage, buy groceries and make car payments. There's an economy of scale that works in their favor.
When they become single again, it's two households to maintain, with all their expenses. In the settlement, one party might get stuck with the lion's share but often both parties take a financial hit.
Women may take the bigger hit
More often than not, women come up short. A recent Census Bureau report found that 21% of recently divorced women were living below the poverty line – more than twice the rate for men.
Sometimes one party will get the house, but increasingly, that asset has to be sold off to divide property in an equitable manner. If one party owns a business, they might be forced to sell, or take on a significant loan, in order to pay off a divorced spouse.
If one spouse has dropped out of the work force to take on more child-rearing responsibilities they will usually find they have lost significant earnings power when they re-enter the work force.
None of this is to argue that couples should remain in bad marriages. But avoiding the point where a marriage goes off the rails could make everyone happier – and wealthier – in the long run.
Something as simple as talking to each other might go a long way toward heading off a divorce, according to research compiled by YourTango.com, a relationship website. It surveyed mental health professionals to learn what is most likely to lead to irreconcilable differences.
“Communication problems” was cited by 65% of respondents, making it the most common response. Not far behind was “couples unable to resolve conflict,” at 43%.
Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars
As you might expect, men and women see the communication problem differently. Seventy percent of men blamed the problems on nagging and complaining, and their spouse not expressing enough appreciation.
Eighty-three percent of women said their partners didn't validate their feelings and opinions and 56% complained he didn't listen or talked too much about himself.”
If any of these things sound familiar, you might want to get acquainted with the traits of a successful marriage. According to the mental health experts in the poll, successful couples pursue individual interests and hobbies and don't try to do everything together. They also learn to argue in a healthy way.
They point out that listening, appreciating and supporting can go a long way toward saving, not just a marriage, but a lot of money too.