When your marriage isn’t working, you may start thinking about a separation. Perhaps you are tired of the constant arguing. Maybe you don’t talk at all. Travel schedules keep you apart. The kids take all your energy. You struggle with finances. Your spouse has habits that drive you crazy. Maybe somebody cheated. You’re just tired of each other. You can’t remember why you got married in the first place.
Whatever the situation, you may decide to separate. But before you do, here are some things to consider.
- Separation is expensive. When one household becomes two, expenses go up substantially. Mortgage/rent and household utility cost will probably double. Expenses like groceries and gasoline may increase 50-75 percent.
- Bills keep coming while couples sort out their future. Whether you currently cohabitate with your spouse in a one- or two-income household, you will now support two households on that same income.
- Unpaid utility and other bills can ruin a credit history in a short time.
- If you don’t have a budget, you need to make one. Make a list of all current living expenses and decide who will be responsible for what. Don’t forget about car repairs, kids’ sports fees and equipment, and all the other irregular expenses that come up.
- Are there costs associated with a different division of household responsibilities? For example: If a stay-at-home parent needs to find a job, you may need to budget for childcare expenses.
- How important is it to keep saving for retirement or adding to the college fund? Be prepared to make lifestyle changes. Decide what extras you can live without.
- In the U.S., at least three out of four separations end in divorce.
- Legal fees associated with a formal separation leading to divorce may range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for complex matters involving lots of assets or custody battles. If you pursue divorce you will need legal advice. You may also want to talk to an accountant about how your taxes will be affected.
- Financial problems are one of the major sources of stress in a marriage. Separation almost always makes those problems worse.
The fact is, it can be a lot cheaper to save a marriage than to divorce. Tragically, the cost of marriage help often gets cut from the separation budget. As a result, couples who are struggling may put off getting help until the marriage is hanging by a thread.
Some couples choose to invest in professional marriage counseling or attend a seminar or workshop led by a skilled counselor. The A New Beginning workshop offered by Marriage Dynamics Institute is one example. More than three-quarters of couples who attend A New Beginning choose to stay together.
Getting help for your marriage is a worthwhile investment that can end up saving you a lot of money in the short term, and pay big dividends over your lifetime. Count the cost before you separate. And if you are already living apart, know that it is never too late to begin working toward reconciliation. Help is available.
Are you discouraged about ongoing problems in your marriage? Give us a call at 800-650-9995 to find out how we can help, or contact us here.