In the majority of marriages in the United States, the husband makes all of the financial planning decisions on behalf of the couple. This statistic holds true across generations – from baby boomers to millennials. The overwhelming majority of married women – 80% percent – report they are happy with this arrangement.
However, when divorce enters into the picture, attitudes shift dramatically. Recent studies indicate that 59% of divorced or widowed women regret not having taken a more active role in their financial future.
Why financial participation matters
If you’ve spent the majority of your adult life allocating your financial responsibilities to your partner, being suddenly hit by complex financial matters can be overwhelming and confusing to deal with in the event of divorce. In addition, if you’ve taken a back-seat role in your and your husband’s shared monetary decisions, there may be aspects of your finances you’re totally unaware of – such as exorbitant spending, deep debt or undisclosed bank accounts.
Across the board, divorced women have consistent advice for married women: Get involved in your financial decision-making while you’re married. It’s a major cornerstone in anyone’s marital security, and you’re hurting yourself by ignoring it.
Even if your marriage is on solid ground and you have no reason to expect it to dissolve, it still makes good sense to involve yourself in your finances while you’re married. The vast majority of wives out-live their husbands, leaving them to make sense of a financial sphere they’ve never had anything to do with, all while coping with a major personal loss.
Financial transparency is an important element in creating an equal, trusting marriage. It also enables either partner to maintain self-sufficiency if it ever becomes a necessity down the road.