In Divorce

Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do. – Irma Kurtz

I am often asked, “Who is the worst in marriage when it comes to being dishonest about money and assets…men or women”? Comparing all the divorce stories I have heard, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither one is worse than the other. I don’t believe it’s a matter of gender but rather of personality.

I have seen marriages where the most amazing man marries the most selfish, self-absorbed woman and vice versa; where the most caring, loving woman marries the most heartless and vulgar man. Sometimes there seems to be neither rhyme nor reason as to whom people marry.   It’s either about chemistry or perhaps insecurity; there is either something about one that attracts the other or where one preys on the frailties of another. I am not saying that this occurs in all marriages but just in some of those I have witnessed.

In some marriages there may be one who is the “alpha”. There is always one who has to be the boss and control the relationship, be in the power seat so to speak; while the other must follow and be the appeaser. Now the sort of control an alpha can display may range from outright overbearing and threatening or it can be subtle and manipulative. This behavior may not reveal itself at the beginning of the relationship but rather establishes itself over a period of time. It is often this person who also controls the family purse strings.

When a marriage breaks down and couples must negotiate their property settlement, the party in the marriage who has always controlled the family money and has been somewhat secretive about the details of family assets, may start to dodge questions during family law dissolution negotiations. I often refer to this person as being a narcissist. Why? Because this person believes they are the most important person in the marriage and consequently may try to secure as much as possible of the marital assets for their own benefit.

A narcissist believes their needs are the most important of any other in the family equation. They may have been the main bread winner and gives them a greater sense of entitlement to the marital pot. They do not equate the sacrifice of another having given up their career or education to care for a family, they don’t see the value in being a home maker, they don’t care that depriving their partner of their fair share as being anything wrong.

They may mask their real intention (keeping the majority of money for themselves) by seeking to justify concerns they have that whatever may be paid for the upkeep on their children, child support, may be wasted and spent by their ex on non-child essential items. A narcissist has little or no empathy for others and has fabricated a reality in which they are superior and more important.

I often see marriages where one party is more of a giver, while the other party may be more of a taker. I see takers as being narcissistic. If this sounds a little like the person you are married to then at least now you know why they behave the way they do and that it may be time to set some limits.

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