The marriage statistics have been drilled into everyone’s heads: half of all “I do’s” end up as “I don’ts.” But now, news of a new service that counsels happily married women on the ins and outs of divorce has some people wondering about tempting fate.
Last month, Manhattan divorce attorney Jeff Landers spoke with CBS New York about the importance of advising women who have no intention of leaving their husbands about what they’d need to know if they changed their minds. Consider it a marital insurance policy.
On the website for his firm, Bedrock Divorce, he makes the case that, for female business owners, “”divorce-proofing … is a part of a sound financial plan, like any other risk management you would normally undertake — after all, you have insurance to protect you against other unforeseen events.” And for women who don’t have businesses, it’s time to get informed about the family finances.
Trouble is, contends Landers, many women don’t know the details of how much their family is worth. They don’t know how much their husband earns, how much they spend each month and where their money is invested. On ForbesWoman, he writes:
Just because a woman is “happily married,” doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a solid, working knowledge of her financial status, cash flow and net worth. Researchers cite “concerns about money” as one of the number one triggers for marital arguments and conflict, and personally, I feel that many of these worries are based on misunderstanding and miscommunication. Why not eliminate some of this confusion before it causes trouble?
Understandably, some men aren’t too keen on the new service. Why fix something if it isn’t broken? Or, as one hapless fellow stopped on the streets of New York told CBS, “Sounds like walking into a meat grinder!”
At the Huffington Post, where Landers’ blog was reposted, readers reacted derisively. “I have the next idea. Pre-marital divorce,” commented one. Another wrote: “Hilarious. ‘I love you with all my heart, honey. That’s why I’m meeting with my Divorce Financial Advisor now.’”
Jokes aside, though, it’s highly advisable for women to drill down on the nitty-gritty of family finances — in good times and bad. As high-profile attorney Gloria Allred told CBS: “Knowledge is power. Not only do I not think it’s bad luck for a happily married woman to think in this way, I think it is very smart on her part.”
Blissed-out wives aren’t the only ones who should think twice about preparing for the end. Last month, as gay marriages in New York kicked into high gear, I wrote about the importance of prenups for long-standing gay couples headed to the altar. It’s not about preparing for divorce, argued divorce lawyers in that piece, but about being prepared in general.
From a communications perspective, undivorce counseling might even make some sense. “Studies indicate that positive communication increases the likelihood of staying married,” says Liana Sayer, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and author of a recent study about how employment status impacts divorce. “I would imagine that women who are totally in the dark about their financial circumstances may also have marriages where their partners aren’t communicating honestly and openly with each other.”
She adds: “I would be hard-pressed to characterize these women as happily married though.”