The Palmers: 'First Comes Love Then Comes Money'
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CBN.com FINANCIAL INFIDELITY
Scott and Bethany Palmer have done financial plans for thousands of couples and they have seen relationships torn apart due to financial infidelity. The Palmers define financial infidelity as any money decision (whether it is big, small, one that you can afford, or one that you can’t) that is made without the knowledge or consent of your partner. Financial infidelity is seen every day in America, particularly in the break-up of our country’s marriages.
Some of the most important research suggests: 51 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce with the top three causes: money, communication, and lack of commitment. One third of couples polled said that a lack of financial responsibility hurt their relationships more than their significant other being unfaithful. 75 percent of U.S. divorced couples cite money as the cause of their marital fighting.
When you peel back the layers, you find that those issues involve serious miscommunications about money and in many cases – secrecy, deception, and lies. Thousands of hours of research showed that one resounding problem came up: most people lie about money to their significant other. Most people hide some financial indiscretions from their spouses. These are things like: a hidden checking account, a secret credit card, little things you buy here and there, shopping binges disguised as routine expenses, and impulse purchases that you “need.” These start small, and then grow and grow over time.
It always starts with a small lie. So little that you’re convinced it wouldn’t hurt anyone. Then, you add another and another. Each lie is like a lit match thrown on dry kindling. Eventually, you will start a fire. At first, it seems manageable. You can handle the double-financial life. It’s not hard to become really good at rationalizing your behavior. After all, you deserve all the things you are buying. Remember that little fire, it’s a little bigger now – and it’s taking more time and energy to hide it from your partner. Now, you fight more than ever about money issues. You have to or your secrets might come out. It’s not long before your infidelity has taken over your life. You’re spending what seems like all of your time talking about money, fighting about money, and crying about money.
The current economic situation has heightened the money problems between couples even more. The issue of money is usually a problem because the subject doesn’t come up during courtship; it comes out when couples get married. If one person is the money person and takes control of everything, the other spouse is not part of the decision making process (and may not be happy about that).
Most couples haven’t been taught how to talk about money. They think perfect budgeting will alleviate problems, but it doesn’t. The Palmers found couples with great budgets would still separate and divorce. This is because the couples were not in mutual agreement about the budget and there would be a lot of resentment and anger. The Palmers learned that couples need to learn how to communicate about money, learn to work as a team concerning their money and find what budget will realistically work for their relationship. One budget does not fit all.
SCOTT’S FINANCIAL INFIDELITY
Scott says that the first time he financially cheated on Bethany they ended up not having a kitchen. They were newlyweds living in a rundown condo in a good neighborhood. They had talked in general about fixing it up. One day, Bethany was going shopping with her grandmother. On the way out, Bethany said that they had to do something about their kitchen.
Within 30 minutes, Scott had the cabinets pulled off the walls. When Bethany returned, Scott had gutted the whole kitchen – the counters were gone, the floor was ripped up, and the appliances were out. He was very proud of himself. Bethany was not happy.
Scott had committed financial infidelity because he made a financial decision without her input. As a result, they were forced to make a series of financial decisions they weren’t
prepared to make. They remodeled the kitchen, but it made the living room carpet look dingy. This led them to get new carpeting, but that made the walls look dull. In six months, the condo looked wonderful, but the Palmers were $35,000 in debt.
Bethany could have berated Scott about his impulsive action with the kitchen. Scott could have gotten angry with Bethany for her suggestion to remodel the kitchen in the first place. Instead, they saw their miscommunication as the source of the problem and worked on it.
BEING FINANCIALLY FAITHFUL
Too often, money management gurus advocate a specific type of financial lifestyle that is highly impractical for most American families. Money is not a one-size-fits-all topic. By understanding in a person’s unique approach to money, they can better communicating to a spouse about money.
Most of us have very strong, deeply ingrained ideas about how and when to use our money. When those ideas clash, most couples have no idea what to do and frequently these clashes lead to financial infidelity. Scott and Bethany say when two people learn how to understand each other, how to talk about money, and how to work together to build a solid financial future, they can put an end to financial infidelity.
1) Find out the money personalities of each spouse and learn to compromise. The five personalities are:
The Saver – These are the penny-pinchers of the world. They hate to part with their money and everything is overpriced.
The Spender – They love to buy; money never stays around very long.
The Risk-Taker – The entrepreneurs and inventors. They’re not afraid of losing everything if it brings them closer to having everything.
The Flyer – Don’t really think about money and “fly by the seat of their pants” when it comes to financial planning.
The Security Seeker – They like knowing their financial future is locked in. They know exactly how much money is their retirement account, insurance, etc.
2) Find out what is real with the Financial Relationship Index (FRI). Couples need to realistically look at where they are financially. A 20-question assessment quickly diagnoses the level of financial infidelity in a relationship and is found on their website www.themoneycouple.com
3) Establish Financial Communication Systems:
Money Dump – Each partner honestly writes out everything about their money situation
Money Huddle – After the Money Dump, the couple comes together to discuss what came out during the Money Dump and come up with goals, plans, etc.
4) If there are arguments about money couples need to learn to fight fair.
The Palmers want couples to know there is hope and any relationship can be saved from damage caused by financial issues.
ABOUT SCOTT AND BETHANY
Scott and Bethany met in 1994 through their fathers, both of whom were in the financial planning industry. At the time, Scott was coming off of a broken engagement and Bethany was dating someone else. They had a strong friendship. Bethany thought Scott was so great that she set him up with a good friend.
Later, Scott moved to California to work for Bethany’s father. By then, Bethany had broken up with her boyfriend and Scott was still single. Their friendship grew into love and they were married in 1998.
They moved to Colorado to lead and manage Envoy Financial. They base their lives on, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." They see life as an adventure and they love helping others discover that joy as well.
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