Whenever a marriage ends because of a wayward husband a woman will inevitably ask two questions …
The first is how could he do this to me?
The second is how on earth am I going to manage?
I can’t answer the first which will bring with it all the pain of betrayal, the fear of change and the inevitable conclusion that this isn’t the person you thought you knew.
But the second I can help you with.
There is nothing that causes fear more than the fear of the unknown. To manage, you need to know where you are in the first place. That means sitting down with bank statements and working out where money goes, what is essential and what has been choice.
This will give you strength from knowledge and will enable you to discuss terms with knowledge. There is never any point in trying to negotiate from a position of weakness.
You may already have this knowledge – it isn’t always the man who runs the household finances.
With this knowledge, you can formulate a plan, a strategy for your future financial security. Whether you are in a position to rely on maintenance, have to provide it, or have to supplement it with your own income, is down to individual circumstances and will vary from couple to couple.
The important thing is knowing the detail about your own financial circumstances.
Most people shy away from this. Money, a commodity that we spend, isn’t the easiest thing to get to grips with under normal circumstances. Now, with all the emotional turmoil of change, it’s the most difficult aspect to discuss especially if one partner has always dealt with it during the course of a marriage and that hasn’t been you.
However, you know what, if you do this early in the breakup, you will be the stronger for it. You will know if suggestions for settlements are unfair or disingenuous and you will be in a position to fight your own corner, and, if relevant, that of your children.
Draw up, or construct, a spreadsheet.
Itemise regular expenditure on bills, food, debt repayment, itemise cash withdrawals, etc, and do the same with credit card statements. Update it from this point on a regular basis so that you keep a live picture of what is really going on.
Itemise all capital – where it is (bank account/investment details), what it is (cash/shares/deposits that are tied up until some future date) and the amount of it.
Talk to friends about their financial advisers and ‘interview’ a few. Knowledge of your own finances means that you have a basis for discussion with an independent individual who may be able to fill in the gaps and will allow a discussion on where you go rather than being stuck in where you were.
If this all sounds a bit brutal – that’s what a divorce is. It hurts. But the above will help arm you against that hurt and will give you some strength to hopefully cope with the change and start the process of independence.