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With 50-50 odds, it's no surprise another one bites the dust

It's official: Of the 12 people who were in our wedding, only three are still with spouse No. 1.

Actually, I guess it's five, if you count me and my husband.

Was it the pink taffeta dresses, the cheap champagne or one too many rounds of "YMCA?"

Alas, it was none of these things. The reason so many of our friends are divorcing is because they got married, and as we all know it's a 50-50 game at best.

But I guess we hang with an overachieving bunch because our bunch has way surpassed the 50 percent mark when it comes to divorce. Just this week I found out two more couples in our church are splitting up.

The saddest part, for me at least, is that these weren't so-called starter marriages, where two starry-eyed, immature 20- (or 30-) somethings plan a huge wedding, and split up before the bill for the Vera Wang has been paid off.

In our circle, the recent rash of divorces have been, for the most part, long-term marriages with kids.

Money was an issue in several of the break-ups. Or at least that's what many of our friends said.

Experts have always said that money troubles are one of the leading cause of divorce. Fifty-seven percent of divorced couples in the United States cited financial problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage.

However, there's new evidence suggesting that while people may say that money problems were the reason for their break-up, the real issues go much deeper.

Jan Andersen, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, who has researched the topic, says, "If we look at all the causes of divorce, financial problems can only account for 5 percent of the effect."

In the case of many of our peers, I think what really happened was that money troubles hit an already shaky union and pushed it over the edge.

Andersen comments, "No one is going to say, 'I got divorced because I was a jerk.' It's more acceptable to say, 'We had money troubles.'"

Perhaps it's not so much lack of money that ends a marriage. It's how people respond to it, and how they interpret their partner's response.

In times of stress, a spouse's failure to take initiative, or look for a new job, or rein in their spending, can all be interpreted as just one more sign that they're not giving the marriage their all.

If someone feels like their partner has been letting them down for years, financial issues can be catalyst that prompts all the old baggage to come flying to the surface.

It seems silly to say, "I'm still mad about how selfish you were 10 years ago." But a fight about the Visa bill feels totally justified.

However, as any divorced person will tell you, splitting up doesn't solve money problems. It just creates more of them.

When I look back on our wedding photos, the '80 hair looks awful, the dyed to match pink shoes look silly and we all look really young and naïve. I wonder if any of us realized that when the minister said "for better or worse," he was giving us a little hint as to what marriage is really about.

Nobody's perfect, especially when they're down. But it's a real shame when people turn away from each other just when they need each other the most.

Contact Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod at www.forgetperfect.com.