Is Mr/Ms Right Really Mr/Ms Wrong?

As a result of authoring a book on money and marriage, many people share their situations with me. Most of the stories involve a common theme—bright, strong, successful people who marry someone that has financial problems.   I can relate, I was one of these people, so I understand. That was why I wrote my book “Til Money Do Us Part.”

Why does this happen? I’ll share some of my observations.

If you have to rationalize or make excuses for a partner who is not making an effort, that is a problem.

Listen to yourself when you discuss or think about your partner’s money habits.   What do you tell yourself? That it will get better? That your partner is victim of yet another situation on a never ending string of bad luck? You can help them and inspire them to make better choices? It really isn’t that bad? This is the only person who will ever love me?

What I learned from my own marriage counseling sessions that strong men and women are magnets for those that have issues.

We become strong because we have developed problem solving skills that have helped us succeed professionally. Your partner’s financial issues will now become your issues. Creditors will find you and begin calling every phone number you have to try collect past due bills. Wages could be garnished that can affect your household income. Liens can be placed on assets, such as bank accounts, houses, investment accounts. Before you know it, you aren’t a partner any longer, but are a parent.   You cannot help someone who doesn’t care, won’t make an effort, continues to make excuses, and promises to change go unmet.

The signs of financial issues prior to marriage were there, but ignored. Why were they ignored?

Because you are involved with someone who loves you, you feel complete. Money shouldn’t be the end all when you have Mr. or Ms. Right that treats you so well, right? Oh but, they have debt, and/or, can’t get a credit card, haven’t filed tax returns, borrow money from you, defaulted on student loans, to name a few situations.   You tell yourself that this will change or poor finances can be overcome by love. Believe me, love and sex goes out the window really fast when you get a notice from the IRS or a bill collector calls your office with threatening demands.

There is shame and embarrassment and you continue to cover for your partner. You put on a brave front so no one knows that your partner has problems that now have become yours. There reaches a point where you cannot continue. Divorce can be costly. Because divorce can be costly, you will stay married so you don’t lose your retirement account, house, or other assets that you have acquired while married. Is this any way to live your life? Unfortunately, many do.

Becoming involved with someone who is not on the same financial wavelength is more common than you think.   Here are a few real life experiences that come to mind:

  • You go to get money from the ATM, and there is no money. Every check is bouncing-why? The IRS had first dibs on your money because your partner ignored the IRS notices and didn’t tell you.
  • The family cars are repossessed in the middle of the night.
  • You go to get refinanced and at that last minute you can’t refinance because the IRS has a lien on your home you didn’t know about.
  • You provide a joint credit card to your partner and they run tens of thousands of dollars of debt really fast going on a spending spree and/or paying off past due bills with your credit.
  • Your car insurance goes up 50% because of your partner’s poor credit score.   Why? Actuarial data supports those with poor credit scores tend to be in more car accidents. Higher risk people pay higher premiums, even if there hasn’t been an accident.
  • Your credit card interest rate went from 9.99% to 24.99%. Credit card companies periodically assess their portfolios to uncover poor credit risks. Poor credit risks have to pay higher interest rates, even if you’ve never missed a payment.
  • You can’t get refinanced because of your partner’s poor credit and your income isn’t sufficient to meet the loan underwriter’s standards.

Nothing is ever that bad or embarrassing to those who are financially dysfunctional. No matter how bad or embarrassing financial situations may be, your partner will not change. Are you inadvertently enabling this behavior, and if so, how do you feel about that?

My book, “Til Money Do Us Part” is available on Amazon. Being a financial professional once married to someone with financial dysfunction, I offer practical advice to help the reader determine if money issues will derail the relationship. Please feel free to share this blog with a friend or loved one who might be thinking about marriage, but maybe settling for Mr. or Ms. Wrong.


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