Guest post by Traci Orticelli.
Money and marriage have always been aligned in my mind.
My mom remarried within a year after divorcing my father when I was 6. For that short time, she was a single mom of three young children, including my brother who is physically disabled and required multiple surgeries and extensive care. She rarely saw a dime of child support from my father.
I often wonder how different my upbringing would have been had my mother been more financially independent when she divorced. Maybe she would have stayed single, or been pickier in choosing a second husband. We might have been spared a whole slew of unsavory behavior, courtesy of my stepfather. Everything from alcoholism, gambling, laziness, over-eating, physical violence, verbal violence, fights about money, and later: bankruptcy, infidelity, and another divorce. Not to mention the fact that my mom was miserable for most of the 15 years she was married to him. Jeez, we could have had all that if she’d stayed married to my dad!
How would things have been for our family had my mother sought an education and a career before having children? Instead, being an uneducated, financially strapped single mom who rarely saw child support made her feel forced into seeking out a second income in the form of another dirt bag husband. Ironically, he lost his job six months after they married.
My mom later admitted that she remarried so quickly because she needed help. Well, what kind of help? I often wondered. It’s not like serving him dinner every night, cleaning up after him, doing all of his laundry and looking at his fat face and false teeth for 15 years didn’t add to her already over-burdened work load. Who was helping whom?
In recent years, my mother has repeatedly (and I do mean REPEATEDLY) made the following statement: “I’ve always been financially better off whenever I was single.” She also says (also repeatedly) that if she had won the lottery, her first stop would have been to a lawyer’s office.
I have been a divorced mom of two young kids for almost three years, so I’ve already surpassed the length of time that my mom spent as a single mom. The difference is that I am much more financially independent than she ever was. I earned a degree and built a career before getting married and having kids. I am proud that I don’t need financial help from anyone, which empowers me to make good decisions for myself and my kids. I can afford to be choosey in selecting a future partner (who’d better be rich).
Traci Orticelli, 39, is a single mom of two. She lives in Chandler, Ariz., where she’s been in the military for more than 20 years. When she retires in 2020, she plans to (bravely) flip homes.