Chuck Bentley Answers: How Can I Overcome Financial Bitterness?

Dear Chuck,

Our best friends are on the brink of a divorce. A financial mistake occurred several years ago, and they’re slowly working their way out. But the wife is struggling to forgive. Any advice? 

Financial Bitterness 

Dear Financial Bitterness,

This is a far bigger problem than simply fixing their finances. A divorce usually leads to a financial and emotional disaster. My hope is that this advice will help you give them guidance to save their marriage.

The Big Picture

Financial stress is a leading cause in marriage conflicts. Breaking up may not solve the issues. The average cost of divorce in 2019 was $12,900. This varies depending on location, child support or custody, alimony, and if it was settled outside of court or in a trial.

I know of several marriages that are in serious danger of failing because apologies and forgiveness were not implemented early on. When this happens over a period of time, a woman feels unloved and loses respect for her husband, or a husband does not get the respect he needs and is unable to show her love. It is what Dr. Emerson Eggerich calls The Crazy Cycle.

Marriage requires time and commitment. Men and women need to learn how to voice their emotions and listen well. It prevents bitterness from taking root. Some basic communication skills are important, and Drs. Lee and Leslie Parrot are great guides in this area.

Learning to Forgive

My wife, Ann, and I try to live by this simple little saying:

The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest. But make no mistake, the first step is usually the hardest. 

Ford Taylor has a tool he calls the Six-Step Apology. He says that it saves marriages and relationships—even those that appear beyond repair. Saying the words in each step is key. The process can lead to a change in behavior that can save or grow relationships. Learn the steps. Use them. Model and teach them to children. See what happens.

  1.     State the offense.  Whatever you said, or they said you said, repeat it back.
  2.     Admit your error. “You are right. I did that. I was wrong.”
  3.     Apologize. “I am sorry.” Or, “I apologize.”
  4.     Seek forgiveness. “Will you forgive me?” Or, “When you can, will you forgive me?”
  5.     Grant accountability. “I give you permission to hold me accountable not to behave this way anymore.”
  6.     Ask if there is more. “Is there anything else that I’ve done that I need to apologize for?”

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SOURCE: Crown.org, Chuck Bentley