Tag Archives: financial problems

Financial Guru Saves Sex Life

 

Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo

When I learned that Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo used their experience of getting out of $50,000 in debt as a means to transform their marriage and improve their intimacy, I asked Tony to provide a guest post for you detailing how they achieved this success. Here’s their story, in Tony’s words …

You might be wondering how a financial guru can save your sex life.  Let’s put it this way, the financial intimacy you have in your marriage can either drive a wedge between you and your spouse or it can bring you closer together.  I never really thought about how much it impacted my marriage until my wife, Alisa, and I attended a recent weekend marriage retreat.

While at the retreat it hit us … Our freedom from debt and the ability to talk about our financial goals has allowed us to be closer when it comes to our sexual intimacy. During the retreat, we talked a lot about intimacy. But it was when our financial pastor, Bill Besalski, got up to talk about financial intimacy when we looked at each other and realized the impact this financial guru had had on our sex life. We weren’t always this close.

Backup:  Ten years ago we were up to our eyeballs in debt—student loans, mortgage, cars, credit cards—you name it we had it, to the tune of $50,000. I started listening to the Dave Ramsey Show and realized how out of control we were and how much sense he made.  I asked Alisa to listen as well, and that’s when we got serious about getting out of debt and living debt-free.

At this year’s retreat, when Bill handed out a couple of financial worksheets for each couple to go over together, we realized just how far we had come.  As Alisa and I talked about our finances openly, there were many couples who wouldn’t even make eye contact. The financial walls we so big and tall they couldn’t even attempt to talk. It is my belief that when we are unable to discuss our finances, our sexual intimacy will suffer as well.

Here are the questions that were on that sheet (and our answers).

Answer True or False to the following:

  1. We pay off our credit card balances every month.  Not Applicable (We haven’t had one in almost 10 years)
  2. We have a liquid “Emergency Fund” equal to at least 3 months of household expenses.  TRUE
  3. We have a budget in place that establishes long term priorities (savings, retirement, kids education, etc.) and assures we do not incur inappropriate debts (i.e. credit cards).  TRUE
  4. We have an automatic system (i.e. payroll deduction) in place to fund our retirement.  TRUE
  5. We have checked our credit scores within the past year and monitor them regularly.  TRUE
  6. We understand that it is “All His” & as a result give generously and joyfully at least 10% of our income to God’s church.  Tony=8 & Alisa=9
  7. We frequently discuss our financial goals as well as our progress.  Both=10
  8. When it comes to our finances we have discussed and agree on our respective roles in managing our money, but share equally in the responsibility and accountability.  Both=10
  9. As a family we read the Bible and pray together regarding the significant challenges and/or concerns in our life. Both=10
  10. There are few unresolved conflicts in our marriage when it comes to how each of us manages and/or spends money.  Both=9

To what degree do the following describe your approach to finances in your marriage?
(0=Not at All to 10=Living It!)

It was during this session that we realized the fruits of our labor & God’s blessings.  If we hadn’t made financial intimacy a priority 10 years ago, who knows what our intimacy would look like today. When we came together and attacked the problem (debt, credit cards, car loans, etc.), this process brought the two of us closer together. We were no longer on separate sides of the fence arguing at each other. Instead, we were holding hands and using all of our energies to rid ourselves of the debt. The couple of years it took for us to eliminate our debt has changed our intimacy.

It has taken a decade to fully sink in, but we now understand how important it is to be on the same page when talking about our finances. We have regular financial discussions now. Doing so takes the stress of money out of our bedroom, where sexual intimacy is both beneficial and enjoyed by both of us.

We’re not the only ones who realize that financial intimacy is so important.  Here’s what Jeff & NeCole had to say about their financial intimacy during the 7 Days of Sex Challenge, Day two turned out to be a blessing. After spending the day taking a hard look at our finances and sitting down to restructure them, we both were more than stressed and welcomed the chance to forget about it and focus on each other. Afterwards, we both felt much less stressed and our thought processes were clearer. And instead of tossing and turning all night because of the stress, we both slept like babies.”

It’s time to save your sex life! Make it a point to go over the above questions with your spouse and dig into your financial intimacy.

What has been your experience with financial intimacy in your marriage?

Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo podcasters, speakers, authors of Stripped Down: 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage, and the founders of ONE.  For many years Tony and Alisa have helped couples achieve romance, passion, and intimacy in their marriage. They’ve been called Champions of Extraordinary Marriages and they truly have a passion for igniting marriages. Learn more about Tony and Alisa at ONE Extraordinary Marriage.  

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Is Money is Dividing Your Marriage?

The Wall Street Journal provided some marriage advice this week for the many couples who argue about money in an article called “Money Matters Can Make or Break a Marriage.” It’s not just marriages writer Jeff Opdyke is aiming to improve, it’s also the financial wellbeing of the households.

The problem: A great many couples are feeling the pinch right now, but even when the economy is flying high, many couples argue about money more than anything else. They argue about how to spend it, save it, invest it and budget it. Frequently, one spouse has more financial prowess than the other, or at least has a greater interest in the topic. The other may find his or her eyes glazing over at the mere suggestion to set a budget together. There are also many marriages in which neither spouse has a great financial understanding, putting them at risk for questionable decisions. If even one of you thinks this is a problem, it’s time to take action.

The solution: Seek help.

Because financial arguments bring emotional baggage, tempers can flare. Deeper issues surface. Spouses feel they and their needs are not understood. Putting a neutral person in the middle greatly improves the chances of making progress. Getting a financial planner or financial counselor involved can greatly diffuse tempers and can keep you from making decisions based on emotions. Let him or her know ahead of time that this is an area in which you have disagreements, and inform the counselor of your specific issues or goals. “With such a strategy, you’re letting the pro absorb the energy that would otherwise fuel a fight, and you’re getting impartial advice that can work to bridge the differences separating you two,” writes Opdyke.

He adds that you don’t have to care about the financial details, you just have to care about the relationship enough to forge a path that meets both of your needs. The resulting plan can hopefully put you on a much better track for financial health as well as marital health.

To find a pro, ask friends or colleagues to recommend a professional they’ve worked with, or call a professional association and explain your needs. You could consider a fee-based financial planner or find someone to offer ongoing support. If you think you can’t afford such services, think about how much a divorce could cost you.

Do you understand your partner’s financial hopes and dreams? Does one of you want to spend the tax refund on a big-screen TV or new sun room, while the other wants to save it for the kids’ college? Is one of you so obsessed about saving for the future, that you haven’t taken a vacation in years? Stop arguing and get a financial checkup, along with advice from a pro.

How Has the Economy Affected Your Family’s Stress Level ?

Almost half of Americans report being more stressed than a year ago, according to this week’s USA Today. One-third of Americans are suffering from “extreme” stress. Unfortunately, the survey was taken before the stock market plunged, so the real numbers are probably worse. That stress is affecting eating and sleeping levels, and inevitably how we relate to others, especially our families.

Since most families are affected by these negative economic trends, it’s important to acknowledge the impact it has on our lives and take action to try to remain calm and provide a sense of normalcy to children. I’ve read how some families have skipped going out to dinner and a movie, and instead have a simple dinner at home followed by game night.

If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, turn off the bad news, take a walk or a bath, or call a friend. Appreciate the people you have in your life. One family I know with several young children in the house reports the father’s slow work schedule has allowed him to spend a lot more time with the family. It does create some financial hardship, but they try to look at the positive side as he has always been extremely busy at work. Older children are aware of financial strain, so be honest about any household changes that you need to make. Ask for their ideas in cutting costs, and look for signs of stress in children.

Reach out to others who are facing extreme stress, or if you see signs of abuse or neglect. The USA Today article advises that as stress levels increase, domestic violence and child abuse also rise. Be on the lookout for families in crisis, and help connect them to social service agencies that can help. You may be the only one who sees the signs of a child or adult in need. If you are able, offer to care for a child for a couple of hours while a parent looks for a new job. Or, if you still have a good job, help others who are looking for work network with your contacts.

Be a steady voice amidst the chaos, and remind friends and family that this period will pass, and the relationships they nurture will remain.

 

 

 

Show Me the Money!

This seems to be the mantra of many married couples. Couples report that what they argue most about is money, followed by children. You will find “financial problems” among the top five reasons marriages fail (along with lack of commitment to the marriage, poor communication, a dramatic change in priorities and infidelity).

It seems everyone is talking about financial concerns and struggles due to the economic downturn. Money is causing even more stress in many marriages, with less coming in and more going out. How did we get here and how can we turn things around?

I recently interviewed a couple who have been married more than 30 years and who have been through some incredibly challenging times. Among their many challenges, a financial crisis was one of the easiest things they overcame together. The key was being on the same team, working together to solve the problem. Early in their marriage, arguments about money were really about who had the power to decide how money was spent. Later in their marriage, money was a tool to help them live the life they wanted. When a financial crisis came, they put all hands on deck to solve it. It took many years to get out of debt, but it actually strengthened, rather than weakened, their marriage.

Another couple I talked to has been married more than 60 years. They say money was never a cause of arguments in their long marriage. You see, they were raised during the Great Depression. They know about hard times, and they know how important it is to save. So they worked hard, saved well and lived a very simple lifestyle. We’re a long way from that ideal in today’s America.

How did we get here?

One of the reason so many couples are in financial difficulty is because the rate of savings has declined tremendously in recent decades, from about 11% in 1982 to less than zero today, meaning on average people are spending more than they are making. Of course, debt causes stress in all areas of our lives. Add to the lack of savings weaker job prospects, lower earnings and a steep decline in our retirement accounts. (Reportedly, half of boomers don’t have retirement accounts to worry about.) For more insight about why we can’t seem to save and how our culture has contributed to this trend, read:

http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Savemoney/P145775.asp

What now?

Ask yourself what is really important to you. If money is a constant source of conflict, be aware that it can whittle away at your marriage. I once had a friend who said she couldn’t afford marriage counseling. Less than two years later, she was divorced, losing her house and filing for bankruptcy with two children to care for. Can you afford not to resolve the issue?

The silver lining to the economic downturn is that more people are deciding (by choice or necessity) to adjust their lifestyle and find ways to enjoy family life without spending money. There are tons of resources available to help you do that. Hopefully in a few years, instead of “Show me the money!” more Americans will be saying, “Show me the love!”

Sources:

 Making Marriage Last,” published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

www.divorcereform.org