Financial Reality of the Battle of the Sexes

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Jun 19, 2007 5:22 PM

The results are definitely in. . . . we lost! Women rule (probably always have) and we have at least abdicated peacefully. How do I know this ? Very simply, when a man calls us for advice he ALWAYS says let me discuss it with my wife. Women who call NEVER, for the most part, ever say let me discuss it with my husband. They either say let's do it or not. That doesn't mean, or imply, that women do not think before they act because they absolutely do. It means they don't have to ratify their decision with their husband because he already abdicated his right to dessent. . . . for the most part.

Does this hold in all forms of finance ? Not a chance. But it does almost always hold in matters of the "nest". What gets done with the nest is women's territory from the purchasing of it, to the financing of it and the eventual sale of it. It extends to the protection of the "nest" with life insurance and disability insurance. It also includes the investment in the house when it comes to expanding it or redoing it which includes redecorating or refurbishing the house. Are you surprised?

When do men get the say? Generally when it comes to other investing and retirement planning. In the later case you always know the man has his hands in it because it is generally overdone. There isn't a better topic at a cocktail party then the size of ones retirement plan and the various aspects of it. I previously wrote a column (2006) about retiring the retirement plans because of the over kill I see all the time in the dedication to have the largest and most complex plan ever, even to the detriment of the current household budget.

Why do I bring this up, certainly not to stir the battle of the sexes. No, I bring it up because I don't see the value in the way we are conducting the " family business". All you have to do is sit in a mortgage signing where the husband says to the signer, why are we pulling this extra money out of the house? What had happened is the wife forgot to mention some rather extravagant spending before coming to the closing and then you are not sure whether to call the police or the paramedics. A little extreme, perhaps, but I 've seen that "play" more than once. Am I saying that this is the woman's fault? Nope! Its everyone 's fault.

It is hard enough to budget and plan in this economy but when you don't have both spouses on the same page it gets down right awnry! I really believe most couples could reduce their budgets and anxiety by a large degree by either working together or getting some professional financial help together. The time spent doing this is probably the best use of anyone's time except for the necessities of life. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your family. And you should get around to it A.S.A.P.

I try my best to point out the best things available in my industry, the mortgage industry, as well as many other financial ideas I believe you should consider but until now I have never suggested that we need a truce in the battle of the sexes. Abdication is not the answer,team work is. You married for better or worse, but you needn't go out of your way to make it worse, only to make it better. Woman are more practical and men are more adventurous so why not take the best from each and build your castle with the best foundation you can? That would come from your combined strengths and mutual agreement.

My parents passed away years ago and for years I thought of what my father use to tell me of the property he wanted to purchase at prices that seemed even low for those days. When I asked him why he didn't do it he said my mother wouldn't let him. I had this tiny resentment of my mother for years for not letting him make us rich, and me very comfortable without working, until I finally realized it wasn't her fault at all. It didn't have to happen like that if they ever could have worked together. You certainly don't want to pass on a legacy like that because your kids might not be as amused as I became when I figured it all out.