Marriage Advice

Staying in a Marriage for Financial Reasons

We’re not surprised that many people are staying in a marriage for financial reasons. They argue that there’s more to a marriage than love. Just because love fades does not mean that the marriage has to fade with it. There’s the practical side, and there are situations when husband and wife decide to stick it out for the sake of their financial health if it’s the only one good thing left to salvage.

And you know something? We agree wholeheartedly – that’s a good enough reason to stay married.

What’s the alternative? Partners can ‘de-partner’”, but an article from the Canadian government says that men who leave their marriages have a higher chance of becoming depressed than men who stay married. And who’s going to forget that old wisdom that says married people are much happier and may live longer than their single friends?

The thing is, when couples divorce, who gets to have the last laugh? Their other married friends or their single friends? This is a thorny tissue and can provoke a never-ending debate.

Let’s examine the crucial question again: should couples stay in a marriage for financial reasons?

What’s at Stake Financially?

By asking what’s at stake financially, you’re receiving a partial answer from us. A partial and vague answer, you might argue, but we staunchly defend that by saying that it’s no longer a categorical yes or no, or a black and white answer. We prefer to stay in the gray zone and tackle the crux of the matter. The crux is, when one says ‘financial reasons’” what are those reasons exactly?

Just how much are we talking about? That’s putting it more bluntly.

Alright, so here’s our take on the matter. If, after crunching the numbers, the net amount is negligible by negligible we mean it will not generate a major financial disaster for a spouse then there is NO reason to stay married. This is assuming that:

  • You can’t restore love and devotion no matter how many times you’’ve tried;
  • The children are grown and able to understand why it is necessary for their parents to separate;
  • The separation or divorce is settled amicably without bitterness and without the need for the court’s intervention;
  • You can remain friends – for the sake of the children. This is just in case there are matters in the future that need to be discussed together.

Going to the other end of the spectrum, if you have substantial assets that you’’ve built together houses, cars, yachts, stocks and bonds, retirement funds and other investments that are registered in both your names, then you may really want to think long and hard about filing for a divorce. A separation may involve a different set of dynamics and may not significantly affect these assets. A divorce, on the other hand, is more final and permanent, and may necessitate a 50-50 split of all that’s jointly owned by the two of you.

Do the numbers. If possible, ask anaccountant’s and’ divorce lawyer’s‘ opinions. One concern would be how much of a financial loss would be created by a divorce, how would each spouse fare in the split-up of assets and liabilities, and how is the debt burden going to be managed if there were a divorce? You may also want to find out about tax implications: for example, if you were to sell your main home and your vacation cottage, how will the capital gains be calculated and what taxes have to be paid? Same question regarding retirement plans. Are the husband and wife going to lose any substantial tax-deferred interest when they divorce?

When a young couple realize they’’re no longer in love, it is easier to separate or divorce without any financial worries to consider. They’’re young and have probably not accumulated that much wealth. The situation would be different for an older couple with substantial assets in their portfolio. The possibility of losing a chunk of their savings just because of an impending divorce may deter them from taking the road to divorce, or at least make them think twice.

After all, there are so many creative ways for a wealthy couple to stay in the marriage and still be able to pursue their own dreams and interests. The key here is to remain good friends. When you can no longer be lovers, it’s a great bonus if you can at least be friends. The money issues are easier to negotiate when you’re friendly with each other.

Advantages of Staying Married for Financial Reasons

We’’d be under heavy criticism for urging that couples stay married for money’s sake, but that advantage does pale when children are concerned. Staying married has its advantages that involve more than the dollars and cents:

By staying married for financial reasons, you also contribute to the emotional stability of your children it’s like killing two birds with one stone.

Save the family treasure and save an even more important treasure the kids. So, before you start thinking that staying married for financial reasons is nothing but selfishness, rise above the petty issue of money and consider the children’s happiness it’s something that no one can put a price tag on;

By staying married for financial reasons, you don’t waste unnecessary financial resources on lawyers, accountants and real estate agents

– This is true particularly for couples who have substantial assets. You’’ve heard the saying, ‘keep it in the family.’” While this may be a snobbish attitude to some, it’s a very practical alternative;

By staying married for financial reasons, you may have opportunities in the future to work out your differences in a civilized way and perhaps regain that lost spark.

-Who knows, you may realize many years down the road that you love your husband after all and that he’s the only one you can trust, despite his warts;

By staying married for financial reasons, you can maintain your present lifestyle and not feel financially restricted in enjoying what life has to offer for you and the children.

– You don’t have to scale back just because of a divorce. If you’re used to a certain standard of living, it will be very difficult for you to adjust. Instead of two homes, you only have one (where would you go in the summer time?), instead of say $200,000 in the bank, you’ll only have $100,000.00. Life is an expensive proposition. Think ten years ahead and imagine what kind of expenses the children will have when they reach university age. Falling in love the second time around is as romantic as it sounds, but if you fall for someone who is in financial difficulty, how much sacrifice are you willing to start over with him or her?

By staying married for financial reasons, you and your spouse can mutually agree to pursue interests with sufficient discretion and respect.

-In other words, if you’re in the mood for meeting a nice person for dinner, don’t do so flagrantly and give your children the wrong signal that ‘It’s okay for mom to date other men even if she’s still married to dad.’” We repeat: two mature and decent people who are’ no longer in love‘ can make arrangements so that they are free to see anyone they choose without causing disruption in the family routine.

Many people believe that staying married for financial reasons is a shallow and superficial way of living. But that’s because they’’re objective observers. Should they find themselves one day in a situation such as the one we described here, they may have second thoughts about passing judgment especially when they reach a level of wealth accumulation that is threatened by a potential split.

At age 40, 50 or 60, the ballgame is a little different. Who wants liabilities at that age when you can have assets? it’s not like you’re 30 and can start from scratch!

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Mylon L Stark September 17, 2018 at 8:38 PM

My situation is: both members of the marriage will be 69 y/o this fall. Married 21 years. The last 11 have been empty, since she decided she no longer wanted love/marriage/sex. (It’s not a first marriage for either party). No dependent children or other dependent relatives.

We are not “of means.” We own our condo outright. We own one car; leasing another. We have no debt, other than the commonly recurring (utilities, insurance, et al). Both are retired from our professions. Each has a part-time job for purposes of staying busy – supplementing Social Security. We engage in mutually-liked activities together, we eat together.

I’ve advocated for years a restoration of the marriage. She will not speak – she withholds any form of communication other than the mundane daily “stuff.”

Dilemma? Each time I’ve attempted to move on to a process of termination (actually had divorce papers filed and a court date set), she says “No, no, this isn’t what I want. I want you back with me!” I fall for it (self-victimization).

I start counseling tomorrow – in an effort to measure how I’m handling it v. picking up some tools of staying in the house with her. We agree that we’d be worse off – financially – if we went our separate ways. Life style for each would suffer dramatically. I prefer we invest in restoration, but she finally declared last week that she has no desire to restore – for to do so would require her to admit she made some poor decisions leading up to present day.

I often think I’m the only one in the world in this situation, but am sure there are others. I created a list of requirements for me to stay in the house. I presented it to her, and asked that we discuss it – compromising if needed. She read the list, and said in somber tone: “We shouldn’t have to this!” Ergo, no conversation, and no implementation of any of the changes I would use to get through the mourning process.

Such is life. The “I want us – no, I don’t want us” is a real drag on my emotions. That’s why I’m seeking counseling, to gain some coping skills.

Just thought I’d 1) contribute to the thread, and 2) sound off.

G Murphy October 10, 2018 at 12:42 AM

I’ve been in a marriage I absolutely hate.
We have moved numerous times unable to maintain a home a mortgage. I had to sell household appliances just to get money I feel like my husband deceive me and lie so much. My family tell me I should marry a wealthy stable man.
I have no attraction for him. Now I see a man I met through a multi marketing Network over 3 years ago. I so tired I pretend to be happy.

G Murphy October 10, 2018 at 12:45 AM

After so many years I hate being married
To such a sloth of a man. I just deal with it I don’t get any younger so I Stay

Linda August 28, 2019 at 1:15 PM

This was an interesting article. I am in an emotionally unsatisfying marriage. Have been for many years. I am 65, my husband is 73. Part of the reason I stay is obligation the other part is financial. Other than financially I take care of my spouse. I am finding his dependence on me very burdensome. He does not have a life outside of what I offer. I am sick of the responsibility of keeping him entertained.
I have changed my life over the past five years through counseling and a spiritual practice. We have grown even further apart.
We have a loose agreement now which allows me some freedom to pursue my own interests, travel etc. I have no interest in finding someone outside of the marriage so this isn’t an issue.
I spent a lot of time feeling I was shortchanging myself by remaining in a marriage of convenience. Your article provides an interesting view of the benefits. We are both retired. Our lifestyle is comfortable but we are far from wealthy. Splitting the assets, pensions etc would have a definite impact on both of our standards of living.
One of my closest friends split from her long-time common law partner last year and I have seen first-hand the impact the split has had. My friend has gone from a fairly opulent lifestyle to living in rented accommodation with her adult daughter and her daughter’s friend. She had to move away from her local area and has no friends in her new neighborhood.
Is this the trade off for leaving? That’s why your article was helpful and thought provoking. There is a huge change in lifestyle when middle class couples split later in life. It seems as if it is a matter of trading one set of problems for another.

Pat Petry April 14, 2020 at 6:49 AM

My husband and I are both in our early 70s. We’ve been married almost 40 years. It’s been a rocky marriage, both emotionally and financially. We have three children together who are grown and out of the house. He can’t perform sexually anymore and doesn’t even touch me affectionately. He treats me like a neighbor or a pal. I feel extremely neglected. He’s an introvert who doesn’t mind spending all of his time by himself. I am an extrovert so it’s been maddening since the kids left. He is usually “pleasant” to me but when he loses his temper, he is foul-mouthed towards me. I have had my own job and try to stay independent as much as possible. I try to maintain relationships with friends and family so I’m not alone. We have struggled financially but finally have a nice house. Both of us have a very modest retirement fund. We are both part of a religion that frowns on divorce (another reason we have stayed married all of these years). If we divorced, I would lose half of the house, half of our possessions and access to his retirement and social security accounts. I did the math and I would lose @$300,000 which I cannot afford at this stage of my life. Since I am over 70, the possibility of finding another spouse or satisfying relationship is remote. Therefore, I have decided that the best option is to stick it out. I am not really happy or fulfilled, but I think I would be unhappier if I had to spend my golden years in poverty.

M.L. Stark September 24, 2020 at 10:47 PM

My 2nd post:

I keep reading, in the article, about “stability of the children, “for the children,” ad nauseum. When the mother of my children was discovered to have been carrying on an affair with my best friend (for 10 years), naturally the relationship was pronounced dead.

When I took it to my kids, they both acknowledged they’d know “for some time” we were unhappy. Neither of them advocated for us restoring the marriage. Each agreed “the best thing is for you two to no longer be together. You each should be happy.” BTW: one was 16, the other 17.

Neither of my sons wanted us to do anything for them, but to each love them. They accepted the condition for what it was. They each handled the split quite well. Each is established in solid relationships of their own.

The article kept referencing money and things. After 2 failed 22 year marriages, I now life in a 50 year old manufactured house of 1050 s.f. It is in a 65+ community of similar houses.

I don’t give a rat’s ass about material things. I have a small savings account, and own the house outright. My youngest son and his family live 1/2 hour drive from me. At 70 y/o, I work full time to supplement Social Security.

I will die in my house, living alone. My mental and emotional health are improved, though the vision of having no special person to whom I may give love is quite painful. I have great capacity for love. What a waste.

Screw material things, and screw money. I believe the two people in a broken marriage need to move on individually toward some level of peace.

As to staying friends for the children, screw that, too. Adult children are capable of dealing with divorce (death of a marriage) as they are dealing with death of a parent.


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