By: André George
Like many of you, I’ve had a hard time avoiding the on-going feud between Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) star, Porsha Stewart, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, retired NFL star, Kordell Stewart. As the pair have taken to numerous media outlets to plead their respective cases over their impending divorce, the only thing I’m able to surmise with any semblance of certainty is the trend apparent in so many of these high profile divorces. Like many women who thought they attained “forever-after” courtesy of their wealthy knight in shinning armor, Porsha committed the cardinal sin of marriage. She never looked out for herself. Seems counterintuitive to the principles of marriage, right? Well, consider the countless women who’ve allowed the promise of, ”what’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine” to cloud their better judgment. The prospect of falling in love with the man of their dreams, building a life together, and ultimately forging onward in happiness, stood in the way of a very real reality—Love is not enough. Whether you’ve been down this road before, are on course to get married, or are open to the possibility in the future, I think it’s prudent to stress the importance of keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, no matter how attractive your significant other’s resources seem. How many times have we seen a woman (a la Porsha Stewart) find herself in a world of trouble because she entrusted a man with her entire financial livelihood? The good news is this is entirely avoidable.
We’ve established that, what often starts as a fairytale lifestyle can, and often does, turn into a complete nightmare—one that you’re unable to awake from. There’s this notion that somehow it’s wrong or impossible for a woman to maintain a certain measure of independence within the context of a relationship, let alone marriage. I’m here to tell you, as a man, this is preposterous. Commitment is and should be as much about selflessness as it is common sense. Common sense dictates that each party in a relationship has a responsibility to protect both their own current and future interests. Self-earned, self-managed income is your best friend. If you’ve been following the tail end of last season, and are current on this season of RHOA, you’ve undoubtedly observed Porsha Stewart lament her financial woes as a result of complete dependence on her estranged husband. Thankfully, she has been candid enough to share the many mistakes she made in her marriage, but as you’ve noticed, she seems particularly remorseful about her over-reliance on her soon-to-be former spouse’s income. Hindsight is 20-20.
Here’s the take away, which I hope resonates. A partnership is founded on mutual investment in the relationship. The combining of assets or marriage in this case, only heightens the need to have parity financially. The income may not be the same, but it gives you some protection. Again, while both parties may contribute to the relationship in different capacities, each person must have a degree of financial autonomy. It’s the only way to ensure both parties have a voice as well as some semblance of stability long-term, no matter how the relationship plays out. It all boils down to controlling your own destiny and holding steadfast to your peace of mind. Money alone won’t give you peace of mind, but the argument could be made that it’s difficult to maintain it in its absence.
Too often, well-intentioned women enter into lopsided relationships with men who use their money as leverage to control, manipulate, and in the worst cases, destroy the happiness of the woman they claim to love. This is not what love looks like. This is not what love is. Do not, I repeat, do not get married to a man without a plan to support yourself. If you make your own money and build a (sizeable) nest-egg for yourself, you may never need it (I’m hoping you won’t), but your chances of being blind sided (a la Porsha) will be far less likely. We don’t like to think of relationships turning ugly while we’re entrenched in the depths of love, but the likelihood of spending the next 30-plus years in wedded bliss is 50-50 at best. If you think the man who rode into town dawning armor on a white horse would never manipulate you, and leave you desolate and penniless… think again. The idea isn’t to approach relationships as a pessimist, but it is naïve to think the person you’ve entrusted with your heart would naturally be a good steward over your financial future during a time of conflict. It’s an irresponsible bet that far too many women make. So as you embark on your journey of life and love, I encourage you to do so fearlessly. Make sure you cover your bases, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Any potential partner, who’d have a problem with that, might not have your best interest at heart anyway.
André George is a lifestyle writer and brand strategist. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @TheAndreGeorge