Marriage and Money: Expert Advice

Problem: Too Broke to Divorce

I've been married for two years and have two boys. I really want out of this marriage but we are stuck in a financial trap -- that's why we stay together. We can not afford to get divorced. We barely get by as it is. I haven't worked in four years and have little college education. I worry most about my children and how I would be able to support them, the cost of daycare is tremendous. I feel like a caged rat, running nonstop on the wheel and never getting anywhere. --luvmyboysbb

We happen to be a little prejudiced against divorce for a few reasons -- aside from the fact that we happen to be happily married. As you seem already to have realized, there can be devastating financial consequences to divorce. Numerous studies also have indicated that married people tend to be healthier than single people.

Of course, the most serious issues are whether you love each other and are able to communicate. One thing to consider: Your children are at an age at which they're consuming all your time -- a factor that could be magnifying your hubby's negatives right now. If you're unsure about whether to split, perhaps it could prove a good idea to get a job that gives you a little time away from your husband. Or maybe you can split shifts, so that he stays home with the kids. Such an action would give you more time to think clearly, get your mind off your marital problems, help alleviate your financial problems and provide you with some of the confidence and skills you'll need if you do decide the marriage can't be saved. The good news is unemployment is at record lows, so we suspect you should be able to find work pretty easily. Also, if possible, target companies that might not require advanced degrees, but yet tend to pay better than others. For instance, Forbes magazine once reported that Costco tends to pay its clerks much better than most other companies and provides good benefits as part of its commitment to retain employees.

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