# The #1 Cause of Divorce

I was in a Finance class for executives recently and we were going over the “Balance Sheet” concept.

The balance sheet, as you may or may not know, consist of assets, liabilities, and equity.  On a balance sheet, the assets must always equal the liabilities, plus the equity.

The professor gave an example, he said, if you purchased a home that cost \$400,000, and you made a down payment of \$50,000, your balance sheet would look like this:

Balance Sheet

Assets: \$400,000 ——– Liabilities: \$350,000 (Mortgage) + Equity: \$50,000 (Down Payment)

As you can see, the balance sheet balances at \$400,000.  The balance sheet, must always balance.

The professor then asked the question, “What would happen if the housing market fell, and your home’s value (the asset) fell to \$300,000?”  “What would happen to your balance sheet?”  One student said, “All you would have to do in order to update your balance sheet is to reduce your assets to \$300,000,” but that’s not correct.

If you just reduced the assets to \$300,000, then your balance sheet wouldn’t balance.  You would have \$300,000 on one side, and \$400,000 on the other side.  But we know that the balance sheet must always balance, so how do we make it balance.

Well since the bank most likely won’t reduce our mortgage amount (our liabilities), and the balance sheet must balance, our positive equity of \$50,000 must become negative equity of \$50,000 so that the balance sheet balances at \$300,000 on both sides:

Assets: \$300,000 ——– Liabilities: \$350,000 (Mortgage) + Equity: -\$50,000 (Negative Equity)

So what’s my point?

My point is that marriage is a lot like a balance sheet, and the marriage balance sheet, also has to balance.  When you got married, your balance sheet may have looked something like this:

Marriage Balance Sheet

Husband: 8.5 (*on a scale of 1-10) + Wife’s Frustration: 0.0 ——- Wife: 8.5* + Husband’s Frustration: 0.0

And then, life happens, people begin to change.  Some people evolve, and some people “devolve.”  It’s devolution that’s usually responsible for marriages ending.

As an example, let’s say the wife works really hard to improve herself and to become a better person.  While the husband, in this example, quits his job to stay home and watch television.  The wife eventually improves to become a 9 on the “wife scale,” while the husband falls to a 5 on the “husband scale.”

So how does this look on our balance sheet.  We know the balance sheet must balance, so here’s what happens:

Updated Marriage Balance Sheet (5 years into marriage)

Husband: 5.0 + Wife’s Frustration: 4.0 ——- Wife: 9.0 + Husband’s Frustration: 0.0

With the husband having such a high number of “Frustration Points,” the wife decides to cut her losses and find a husband who is also a 9.0.

Some combination of this oversimplified scenario becomes the real reason for divorce.  Sometimes the amount of evolution and devolution is slight, and sometimes it’s vast, making divorce imminent.

The Conclusion

Is this the way it should be.

In our example, the wife, clearly 4 points better than her husband, is justified if she wants a divorce, right?…

Wrong!

The truth of the matter is, marriage is a team sport, and when one person decides to grow, that person is obligated to work with the other person to ensure they’re growing as well.

Marriage is a battlefield; you don’t leave a wounded soldier behind.  You pick them up, and bear their burden until they’re able to carry themselves.

When “you” grow-up into a better person, you have the responsibility to ensure that your spouse grows with you; you work with them, you love them.  …This is the right approach to the divorce dilemma.  (Note: In the rare case that you married a complete loser, you’ll need to seek professional assistance for further advice.)