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Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before my Divorce

April 9th, 2008 at 09:43 am

1. I wish I had known how financially tough it was going to be. I would have had some savings that were mine alone. And I wouldn’t have quit my job!

2. I wish I had known how to outfit myself at garage sales, resale shops and Goodwill. I wasted a lot of money shortly after my divorce before I learned a better way to shop.

3. I wish I had known that buying new clothes and spending a lot of money on haircuts, hair coloring, exercise classes, makeup and contact lenses were NOT going to find me a new husband.

4. I wish I had known my boys were going to turn out fine. I wouldn’t have tried so hard to “make it up to them” with toys and expensive trips to amusement parks.

5. I wish I had known there were so many others like me. I could have talked to them and perhaps shared resources.

6. I wish I had known that marriage counseling was not going to work.

7. I wish I had known that after I moved to a new house with my husband, he would break his promise to stay with me. I would have been so much better off in the original house.

8. I wish I had known that going back to school when I was so stressed and crazy was a dumb idea. I wasted a year’s worth of tuition on classes that got me nowhere.

9. I wish I had known that I was really all right and my husband was screwed up. I wouldn’t have wasted all that money on counseling.

10. I wish I had known that my happiest years were ahead of me. I would have saved a lot of money I wasted on comfort food and indulgences that really didn’t comfort me at all!

Some of these are not really financial, but these are the things I truly wish I had known. Of course, divorce is such a crazy time, no one gets through it unscathed. I am just so grateful that I am happy now!

25 Responses to “Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before my Divorce”

  1. miz pat Says:

    Right now I am going through a divorce. Just knowing that another frugal person is possibly going through something similar heartens me.

    I spent 32 years married and dedicated and in love with someone, who was using me, controlling me, and screwing around on the side, becoming progressively more demanding, unstable and then finally violence and frightening.

    I haven't gotten the final word on the divorce yet. I live in a state where it doesn't matter if he's an philandering controlling liar, he gets half of our assets. But I figure I will refinance the house, and pay him his half and finally live a life.

    So far, what I wish every woman in a relationship, and heck, every man for that matter, because abuse is not the perogative of the male, but of anyone, is that people learn about having marriages and relationships. What I thought was love, was apparently being used by someone. What I thought was caring, was control. What I thought was the way things had to be, was really a prison.

    If I had a suggestion for everyone, its keep a separate bank account. Whether you are madly in love or not, have your own money that belongs to you. Because no matter what, having separate money means if you have an emergency ranging from Hurricanes, Earthquakes, or him running off with a younger woman, you have an emergency fund.

    The other thing I wish I had known was that there are no special rules in the universe that say "its your job in life to put up with another person's cruelty". We feel so bound by finance, by children, by responsibilities. Find out what you want in life. Find out what you love in life. Take time to sit down and ask yourself if you are happy, not if you should be happy.

    Thank you for your lovely post. It has energized me and encouraged me at a time when I really need it.

  2. JanH Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I think you'll help people realize that they are not alone.

  3. Ima saver Says:

    I am so glad that you are happy now.

  4. Broken Arrow Says:

    Good list! Thanks for sharing. Smile

  5. Nic Says:

    Prenup,Prenup,PRENUP. This may be too late for some,but the time to get that prenup is BEFORE the marriage when everything is just fine and dandy. KEEP YOUR OWN accounts in your name only. Savings and checking. Hell,IRA,401K,money mkt...whatever...keep it separate.

  6. Broken Arrow Says:

    Hehe, oh yeah, I absolutely agree about a pre-nup from this point out. Separate finances, I agree with that as well... but I can also understand that this is a highly subjective area that is going to vary from couple to couple.

  7. merch Says:

    I don't agree with the pre-nup or separate finances. When you marry someone, you become one. There are no finance secrets in our house. I can see every check or deposit in any of her accounts and vice versa. If we have an item we need to buy or an expense, we talk about it. When we parent or kids, we join as a unified front. Marriage is all about we and the best way to achieve that is as equals with open communication.

    I lead a boring life. I get up at 5:30 and go to work and get home at 7:00. I stay at home with my family the whole night. I stay out of place that would get me into trouble (bars, etc.). I have a saying the nothing good ever happens after midnight so I am always with my wife.

    My life is open to her. Anywhere I go, she can come. Anytime she wants to talk to me, she can (and I probably talk to her 5 times a day from work).

    Is our marriage perfect? No. But we respect each other, treat each other as equals, and talk.

    I am sorry that some marriages don't work out. I truly am. But at the same time, you shouldn't go into a marriage think what if it fails.

    A good marriage is about the sum being greater then the parts.

    Sorry, so long winded. But I do feel strongly that in marriage you have to give your all and hiding stuff, or this is mine, just seems to be counter productive.

  8. sillyoleme Says:

    Although I'm not married, I'd like to think that I agree with Merch.

    My mom has been through three tumultuous marriages, including one to my not-so-great father. Because of this, I'm no doubt more picky about the guys I date, and especially hard on BF sometimes b/c I see a future with him and I'm on the lookout for anything that might go wrong.

    But in the end, I will not get married if I feel like I need a safety net for it going wrong. We won't be perfect, but we'll be open, because I just think, if you don't believe in your marriage in the beginning, when will you?

  9. Carolina Bound Says:

    I don't agree with Merch. You can't judge a bad marriage by a good one. If I had had some separate money it would have been my salvation. As it was, I DID trust my husband, I DID merge our finances, and I was financially devastated. He took advantage of me.

    You may ask why I married him. All I can say is the way he presented himself was not truthful, and I was naive. Anyone can be the victim of a predator.

  10. miz pat Says:

    I think its lovely that you have such high opinions of marriage, but I was married for 32 years. I believed that when two come together they become one flesh. I still believe in the sacrament of marriage. But by golly He sure didn't.

    I'm not saying to do all these things because you don't trust or love another person. There are a lot of other things that can happen in a marriage, where having money in your own name is prudent. Your spouse could get sick, and be unable to sign checks. Your spouse could go off to war. Your spouse could go on a business trip and be stranded. Or vice versa. You having money in your own name would make things a lot more easy in those circumstances as well.

    Nor am I proposing telling lies - especially not in marriage. I think you should be frank and open about finances. I'm just saying that besides having a joint account, you should have money in your own name.

  11. nance Says:

    I was married at 20, to my first husband. He was four years older, and a "trust fund baby". He had no sense about money, and spent like the proverbial "sailor on leave". We had three kids in a three year period, and I stayed home to care for them. When the youngest was in kindergarten, I went back to college, and in the next 2 1/2 years, got my degree. It was terribly difficult, and got no help from my ex with kids, housework, etc. He was never home when he was not working. He golfed, drank, gamboled, cheated on me, and was a pathological liar, and very charming.
    When I finally threw in the towel, finances were in terrible shape, and thank God I had a decent job and was able to support my kids.
    I had no savings, some debt, and it was a struggle, but becoming very frugal made the difference.
    I am in a second marriage. The house was mine before we married. It is in my name, alone, and I have an IRA and a savings account with a year of expenses in it, in my name.
    I will never be vulnerable again.

  12. nance Says:

    I was married at 20, to my first husband. He was four years older, and a "trust fund baby". He had no sense about money, and spent like the proverbial "sailor on leave". We had three kids in a three year period, and I stayed home to care for them. When the youngest was in kindergarten, I went back to college, and in the next 2 1/2 years, got my degree. It was terribly difficult, and got no help from my ex with kids, housework, etc. He was never home when he was not working. He golfed, drank, gamboled, cheated on me, and was a pathological liar, and very charming.
    When I finally threw in the towel, finances were in terrible shape, and thank God I had a decent job and was able to support my kids.
    I had no savings, some debt, and it was a struggle, but becoming very frugal made the difference.
    I am in a second marriage. The house was mine before we married. It is in my name, alone, and I have an IRA and a savings account with a year of expenses in it.
    I will never be vulnerable again.

  13. Aleta Says:

    Even though you have regrets about some of your decisions, you have attempted to remedy the situation. You will never have to say if I had only done this or that; maybe it would have helped my marriage.

    I think that Merch sounds like a great person and his wife is fortunate. Not all men are like him nor are they very transparent. Some are wolves in sheeps clothing. I'm a little torn about the pre-nup stuff.

    We have always had one check book and everything is there to see, but I can see where a woman should have her own separate account for her own peace of mind.

    Suze Orman is pushing this account with TD Ameritrade so that women will have their own account.

    Unfortunaltely, a man can be one way today, and tomorrow he can go through his midlife crises and run off with some beautiful young woman. Men are known to just throw it all away for an elusive dream about the grass being greener on the other side. Unfortunately, that grass will have to be mowed as well.

    As for counseling, it probably helped you more than you know. At least you're not blaming yourself now. You're putting the blame where it should have gone. Maybe, some on him but also some on us women for trusting too much and not using our sensibilities.

  14. miz pat Says:

    I know men who were victims in divorces too. The wife took her friend's advice, and cleaned out every bank account they had and moved out (including his direct deposit payroll check for that week), leaving him with absolutely nothing to pay bills with.

    Personally, I believe in marriage, but I sometimes think we should be required to take a class on relationships before we get married. I wish I had.

    I wish now i had interviewed his family and asked them about him growing up as a child. I might have changed my mind. Oh well. Water under the bridge.



  15. Aleta Says:

    miz pat: You're right about women cleaning men out as well.

    As for classes on relationships; I don't think that they help those who are helplessly in love. You just don't see things the way that others do.

    As for family, they're really not going to tell you alot. Most women think that some men have had a bad childhood and never had a chance. People tried to tell me things years ago including counselors but I thought that they just didn't know the same guy that I knew. We believe what we want and hope that the other person will get a light bulb moment and see some of his or her own faults.

  16. Nic Says:

    It would be wonderful if everyone in a marriage treated each other as equals...where the "comings and goings" were transparent...where finances are truly OURS not mine because I contributed more. But this is the real world. There is NO reason why a woman, or a man for that matter should not have their own money in a separate account. A trust could be set up where it's rolled over to the surviving spouse upon death. Insecurity would be the only reason anyone would stop a spouse from having their own funds.
    There are many reasons to have your own funds. A spouse gets sick,you need cash right away to help someone your spouse may not approve of,your husband/wife gets deployed etc. And it doesn't have to be secretive. My SO knows how much I have in my savings account.
    But keep in mind,failure to plan is planning to fail.

  17. merch Says:

    My idol in life if I had to pick one would be my grandfather. He has an opinion about everything. When I go visit him, he’s still full of piss and vinegar. But in my mind he also stood up for what was right and never was intimidated by anyone.

    When I was young we pulled me aside and gave me two pieces of advice. All a man has is his word and the right thing is not the easiest. And that’s how I like to live my life and it filters into marriage as well.

    I just feel that a lot of issues in marriages is that people are not open and not operating as one unit, putting their selfish needs before the family and not doing what is write. It’s up to both parties to be open and do the right thing and if one is not being open, that needs to be confronted. If you can’t do that, maybe marrying this person is not right.

    You may think I am being overly simplistic in my view, but I believe that most of life is simple ideas but people over complicate them or make excuses of why they won’t work.

    So in my simplistic life my word is my word and I always strive to do what is right (no matter how difficult it might be).

  18. merch Says:

    My idol in life if I had to pick one would be my grandfather. He has an opinion about everything. When I go visit him, he’s still full of piss and vinegar. But in my mind he also stood up for what was right and never was intimidated by anyone.

    When I was young we pulled me aside and gave me two pieces of advice. All a man has is his word and the right thing is not the easiest. And that’s how I like to live my life and it filters into marriage as well.

    I just feel that a lot of issues in marriages is that people are not open and not operating as one unit, putting their selfish needs before the family and not doing what is right. It’s up to both parties to be open and do the right thing and if one is not being open, that needs to be confronted. If you can’t do that, maybe marrying this person is not right.

    You may think I am being overly simplistic in my view, but I believe that most of life is simple ideas but people over complicate them or make excuses of why they won’t work.

    So in my simplistic life my word is my word and I always strive to do what is right (no matter how difficult it might be).

  19. Broken Arrow Says:

    You know merch, I agree with you. I too believe in communication and transparency in a marriage, including finances. However, I also think that such a thing can be achieved with separate finances if that's what a couple chooses to do. To me, it's just another way of handling finances, not necessarily as a means to hide and deceive your spouse....

    I would've liked your grandfather very much, because I also believe that a man's word is the only true currency he carries. Money will never buy character.

    I also believe in doing the right thing as well. Even my ex would acknowledge that if you asked her. Unfortunately, I've also learned that while we can do the right thing, that doesn't mean others, even our own spouses, would share the same belief....

    It heartens me to see another man with such character and conviction.... To me, it's what separates the men from the boys. But from now on, I'll never go into another relationship without some self-protection, and I hope that this hypothetical woman will do the same for herself.

  20. Aleta Says:

    How does the saying go: Character is who you are when no one's looking.

    I also believe that you should always do the right thing regardless of what the other person does. The problem today is that so many people would rather be right than happy.

    My brother is a minister is one of those who is his word. I watched him raise his 3 children when his wife walked out and the evidence is the way those kids are today. He didn't have very much but he gave totally of himself for them. So, I have my own person that I look up to. He always believes the best in people.

  21. sillyoleme Says:

    I am confused... why would you have to have your own separate account to have access to money if your SO went to the military, got sick, etc.?

    I totally agree that all the financial assets shouldn't be in JUST the man's (or woman's) name, but I was assuming that the accounts would be in BOTH names?

  22. Amber Says:

    Wish I had known you when you were going through your troubles.... you have managed to break through all those obstacles, I am proud of you

  23. miz pat Says:

    If i were advising a married couple, I would suggest that they have a joint checking account, a joint savings account for joint goals, separate credit cards, and separate bank savings accounts.

    Last year, I went on a seminar, and my husband cancelled my credit card while I was on travel. Fortunately for me, I had a card in my own name.

    This year, he decided he was in love with another woman, and cashed in his retirement IRA and gave her $5000.

    Then later when i wanted him to get counseling, he took all the money out of the checking account, got drunk and lost some of it while taking the bus to the other woman. Then he came back.

    At this point I got a separate bank account in my own name.

    If i had money in my own name before, I would have lost less, and would have felt more independent.

    That is my point.

  24. treasureinheaven Says:

    First I will say thank you for sharing this because I've been there, done that, can't afford the tee-shirt.

    It's been almost two years since my divorce and I will tell you that life does eventually get better. You've shared some valuable insight here. I was getting ready to write a piece on this very topic, however, I'm modifying to say '10 Things I wish I'd known before I got Married' Keep your head up and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

  25. Carolina Bound Says:

    Thank you to everyone for your comments and your support. It is been quite a while since I went through this, and I am doing fine! To all who are going through the same thing, know that you are not alone; there are many who care, and you will survive!

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