In my previous post I raised the counter intuitive prospect of considering things from the perspective of one getting ready to seek a divorce, but doing this while putting together a pre-marital agreement prior to your wedding.
The book, Considering Divorce? Critial Things You Need to Know, by Milinda Eitzen, JD; Joanna Jadlow, CPA; CFP®, CDFA™; and Brenda Lee Roberts, M. Ed., LPC, contains a wealth of worthwhile advice to help couples maintain control over the difficult prospect of divorce while making choices that can help them create the most favorable outcomes.
Taking a little time to consider the challenges of marriage before entering the contract is akin to being aware of your family medical history with respect to cancer, diabetes, dementia and other considerations. It can help increase your chances of avoiding the perils. For those of us too timid to open our eyes, we do not improve our chances of avoiding the undesirable outcomes. We only assure ourselves that we will be totally taken by surprise, whatever happens.
This book shares the sobering fact that marriage counseling will only have a chance of working if both parties are open to using it in good faith. Pretty much a “DUH!” But the stark statistic that the average couple waits about six years before seeking help with marital problems, while half of all marriages fail within the first seven years is eye opening. Most people do not consider divorce too soon, but wait too long. In reality, the failure is not considering divorce soon enough, but not being intentional about creating the marriage soon enough.
It is the same kind of waiting we sometimes do while an undiagnosed illness is slowly maturing to a disaster. Not that ALL potential ailments can be known, but it does seem to be a very human way to ignore things.
Considering the harsh realities of how many marriages fail, wise people will seek to install practices that enhance the possibilities of successful marriages. There is no practice more critical than cultivating ruthless honesty with each other. There may be no better time to cultivate such a practice than while working through the conversations that create genuine and transparent discussions about the current financial realities of each party, and the expectations each has for how finances should best be handled during the marriage.
Their advice offered in preparation for divorce is spot on with respect to creating a good marriage: Be honest with yourself and be as detailed as you need to be. Consider whether the expectations you have for yourself and your partner are reasonable. If things do not work out as planned, will you be willing to continue in the marriage to try to resolve differences? How long will you stay in the relationship if it does not change?
When partners are committed to working together to have the marriage be successful two things happen: First, they are much more able to avoid conflicts that might otherwise be fatal to the marriage. Second, marriages generally evolve through and beyond romance to reach the hallowed grounds where special relationships emerge. Newlyweds become oldlyweds, and oldlyweds are the real reason why marriages work.
Using the creation of a pre-marital agreement can be the perfect setting in which to establish the mutual respect and commitment to honesty as a basis for the marriage bond. Like all bonds, marriage bonds mature slowly.
Be brave young lovers and follow your star,
I hope your troubles are few…