I am 14-years-old. I come home from school one day, walk through the front door, and hear my mom talking with one of her best friends in the dining room. As I walk toward them, my mom sees me out of the corner of her eye and signals me to not approach and let them have their privacy; I walk into the kitchen to get a snack. While pulling the milk carton out of the refrigerator, I can’t help but overhear their conversation.
It’s clear that my mom’s friend Gloria was very upset. “I knew we had our problems,” she said. “But, because of our kids, I didn’t think he’d really leave me.”
“What did he say?” Mom asked.
“He said he’s been seeing a much younger woman for the past year,” she said. “According to him, she makes him feel like a hero. Apparently I make him feel like a disappointment.”
“Did you know about this affair?” Mom asked.
“To be honest, I suspected something was going on, but I really didn’t want to know. I just hoped that it was a fling and that things would eventually return to normal.”
“So if your marriage wasn’t working, and you knew he was having an affair, then why did you stay?” Mom asked.
Because of the Money
Gloria hesitated and then quietly said, “I didn’t leave because of money. Even though the marriage wasn’t good, at least I was taken care of financially. I haven’t worked for twenty years. I don’t know if I can make it on my own.”
I heard Gloria start to cry. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s frightening to face the reality of being forty-five, on my own, and having to provide for myself. I never dreamed I’d be in this situation.”
I put the milk carton back in the refrigerator and went to my room. As I walked up the stairs I heard my mom’s friend say, “I just don’t know if I can take care of myself financially.” Those words really struck a cord with me.
I thought, “Here is this woman in a miserable marriage, and she puts up with it because she is so dependent on her husband to provide for her.” At that point, I realized that life isn’t necessarily the happily-ever-after fairy tale I believed it to be. I remember making a decision that day and saying to myself, “I will never be dependent on a man, or anyone for that matter, for my financial life.”
And that decision has guided me throughout my life.
It May Be Time For a Change
Please know I am not anti-men; I love men. I just do not want to be financially dependent on them. Unfortunatley, so many women are today.
Unfortunately, many marriages do not pass the test of time. The divorce rate is up; one out of two marriages ends in divorce. I’m not saying plan on a divorce. I am saying be realistic and be set up financially to succeed no matter what happens. For Gloria, she had no “plan B.” She had one plan—stay married at all costs in exchange for a comfortable material life.
Throughout history, women were taught and expected to be financially dependent on someone else for their financial well-being. Today, that could be a dangerous position to be in; times have definitely changed.
It’s time for us women to change. The formula that worked for us when we were young loses its effect as we get older. And for many of us, it’s time to change our formula and money plays a key role in the equation. Whereby sex gave us power when we were young, money puts us in control as we get older.
Katherine Hepburn summed it up best. She said: “Women, if you’re given a choice between money and sex appeal, take the money. As you get older, the money will become your sex appeal.”
It’s Your Choice
The times have changed in more ways than one, and we women need to change with them. If you are convinced that your best financial strategy is to have a man provide for you until the day you die, then I wish you well. For the rest of us, who are ready to make some changes in our lives, who want more control over our lives. and who are ready to take action, it’s time to make the decisions necessary to become financially free.
And that starts with financial education. Take a class, read a book, attend a seminar, or find a coach. Start today; continue for a lifetime. It will be the best decision you’ve ever made.