In our last post, we told you about an article on the Wall Street Journal site, called “A Divorcee’s Guide to Marriage” and that we were so impressed by it that we decided to make a three-part series of it. The article reports on Dr. Laura Orbuch’s 25 year research project for the National Institutes of Health, in which she gathered the 5 things that divorced people said they would do differently in their new (or possible next) marriages.
This post, we’ll focus on the second and third pieces of advice from the study: talk more about money and get over the past.
Rule #2 Talk More About Money.
Money was the No. 1 point of conflict in the majority of marriages that Dr. Orbuch studied, even the ones that were happy and intact. 49% of divorced people in her study said they fought so much over money with their spouse—whether it was different spending philosophies, sneak spending or one spouse making significantly more or less than the other.
According to Dr. Orbuch, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to fixes money issues in a marriage. Each individual has to examine their own thoughts about money, then work out how to blend your styles and personalities. She suggests asking yourself, what money meant when you were growing up, how do you approach spending and saving now and what are your financial goals?
She advises that couples need to discuss their individual thoughts and feelings about money and decide on a plan that will work for both of you.
Rule #3 Get Over the Past
In Dr. Orbuch’s study, divorced individuals who held on to strong emotions for their ex-spouse—whether love or hate—were less healthy than those people who had moved on emotionally. She doesn’t advises not forgetting about the past, but getting it over it. Some of her suggestions include journaling about it, writing a letter to the other person or talking to a friend other than your spouse.
Ed and I can speak to this rule from personal experience. Ten years ago, built-up resentments over mistakes we’d both made had turned us into roommates rather than lovers. It wasn’t until we made a conscious decision to let go of the past that we were able to move forward and build the exciting, vital marriage we now have. In the beginning, we even repeated this phrase to each other fairly often: “I’m not going to focus on what you did yesterday, but on what you’re doing today.”
Next post, we’ll finish up this three part series on the wisdom of divorced people and what they have to say about having a happy marriage.