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A Marriage Mindset, Overachieving Chicks, and the Patels

Marriage Mindsets, Determination, and MoreI recently watched Meet The Patels on Netflix. (I recommend!) The romantic comedy documentary talks a lot about “marriage mindset,” and I thought it might make an interesting discussion over here. If you haven’t seen it, 30-year-old Indian-American actor Ravi Patel agrees to do everything he can for one year to find a wife the way his Indian parents want, including biodata, online dating, Indian weddings, and even attending an Indian marriage convention. His parents accuse him throughout the documentary of not having a “marriage mindset” — of going into the thing with doubts and hesitations and expectations that are too high. (Here’s a nice NPR article about it, and here’s the trailer on YouTube.)

Of course, in case it needs to be said: marriage is not essential to happiness or success, either in an “official document” kind of way or a long-term relationship (“LTR”) kind of way. In fact, for my own $.02, I’ve always had the mindset that I’d rather be by myself than with the wrong person.  In my teens and 20s this meant I didn’t date a lot and wasn’t in too many LTRs — I had other stuff to do, was happy with my life, and didn’t see any urgency to finding someone. Looking back, I think I saw a lot of girlfriends spend too much energy on the wrong guy (sometimes to the detriment of school and career), and unconsciously stepped back from the whole arena, with the idea that I would welcome love if it happened, but I wasn’t going to put myself out there and force something.

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Dating at Work

Dating at WorkLadies, what are your thoughts on dating at work? Have you ever dated a coworker? What do you think are the rules for dating officemates? With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought we’d have a nice open thread about the pros and cons of dating at the office. (For those of you already happily coupled, let’s hear how you met, whether at the office or beyond!)

For my $.02: I never dated a coworker, although I had crushes on a few of them over the years — at the time I was very worried about being viewed as someone who saw the office as a dating pool. Looking back, this was probably silly — in Big Law so many people churn through the lower ranks it’s almost like another grad school, and there are always more people to work with if a relationship ends poorly. Indeed, I know several happily married couples who met as coworkers at BigLaw — although all of them kept it a secret, even from good friends, until the relationship was pretty serious. (In fact, a number of readers noted in our last open thread about dating at the office that they had dated at work, and discretion was the name of the game, as well as paying attention to the “don’t date assholes” rule that, you know, is a pretty good one for dating in general. I also agree with the other little rule that readers noted in that thread, though: Summer associates or interns should not date at the office.)

As for how I met my husband — I went through a phase where, fighting my introverted ways, I said “yes” to pretty much any activity that would take me out of the house. For about a year and a half I went to political fundraisers, soccer games, and trivia nights — and I also joined museum groups like the Young Lions (at the New York Public Library) and the American Museum of Natural History’s Junior Council. And just when I was about to give up my little “dating project,” I met my husband. We met at a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party in a bar on the Lower East Side; Mr. G also did not know the birthday girl well and in fact had to be dragged to the party (by our future best man!). Our circles really didn’t intersect at all, so it’s really lucky that fate took us both to that party.

All right, ladies, over to you — have you dated at the office? Share your stories (and your rules)! If you’re happily coupled, how did you meet your partner, whether at work or beyond? 

Psst: we’ve also talked about finding time to date when you’re busyhow to date a really busy guy, and how to date someone with more time or less money

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Tales from the Wallet: Surviving Divorce, Financially

financially-surviving-divorceWe haven’t done a Money Milestone series in a while, in part because I’ve been a bit trepidatious about this one. I keep reading that divorce can decimate your finances, and there are numerous things you should do in advance of, during, and after a divorce. However: I’m happily married (knock on wood). I still think this is important for us to talk about here, both for readers who may be thinking about a divorce or going through one.  So let’s do this as an open thread (anonymous as always) — ladies who’ve been divorced (or seriously investigated getting one), please speak up. What are your best tips for financially surviving a divorce? What would you do differently with your finances during the marriage, if anything — and when would you have done it? What resources can you recommend, either on the finances side or otherwise?  

In this Money Milestone series, we’ve done grad school, weddings, home buying, and planning for a baby.  In terms of money and relationships, in the past we’ve also talked about pre-nups, shared accounts, married money management, dating someone with less money, dating a fellow busy overachiever, and more.

2016 Update: You can read all the advice from the readers who’ve been through this in the comments below, but some of their top tips include:

  • don’t put your anger into emails (and save everything your partner sends to you, including screenshots of text messages)
  • find a lawyer right away, don’t wait — they help you evaluate what’s fair under the law, even if you have guilt about being the one ending the marriage
  • understand the difference between a lawyer who fights (such as with a contested divorce) versus one who administrates (such as in an amicable divorce)
  • see if your company has a legal plan that entitles you to any free legal service
  • investigate state laws regarding community property, separate property, commingled assets, and spousal support, and see if you can find an example of your state’s “Marital Dissolution Agreement”
  • open an account only in your name right away
  • make copies of all important paperwork (such as pension statements and the taxes for several previous years) ahead of time
  • consider relinquishing rights to each other’s retirement funds (particularly if you have more!)
  • Do not sign away your rights to real property unless you are released from the mortgage — and even if the court orders him to pay the mortgage that’s in both your names, you are still legally obligated to the lender unless and until the loan is refinanced.
  • ponder how “joint” any credit card debt was — did you accrue debt because he wasn’t employed?

Further reading:

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Tales from the Wallet: Wedding Finances

Money Milestones: How Your Wedding Affects Your Finances | CorporetteWhat are the financial implications of getting married — and how does your wedding budget affect your overall financial health? What other major milestones affect your financial health?  I’ve often read that how you handle a few major milestones in your life — wedding!  grad school!  baby!  buying a house!  divorce!  retirement! — can have a significant impact on your overall financial health.  So I thought we’d start a series on Money Milestones.  (We’ve already talked about how where you live affects your finances, as well as what a general money roadmap, through life, should look like.)

First up:  the financial implications of getting married.  The question to everyone who’s been through this: what choices did you make that affected finances? What would your advice be to someone just going through it (either for the first time or again)? To those of you who decided NOT to get married because of the financial implications — please share some of your thoughts with us!

For my $.02, these are my best tips:

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Tales from the Wallet: Different Money Management Methods for Marriage and Partnerships

Managing Money after Marriage or Partnership | CorporetteWe’ve talked about how to keep track of many accounts — but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about which money management method Corporette readers prefer, once married or partnered.  There are a number of different methods that I’ve heard about through the years, and I’m curious to hear from you guys (particularly those of you who are the breadwinners):  what is your family’s method for sharing money?  (Pictured: Cole Haan Parker Exotic Tech Snap Wallet, on sale at 6pm for $59 (was $128).)  There was a great series in Slate a few years ago (now available as a Kindle book) that defined these main types:

  • Common Potters – people who combine all of their money
  • Sometime Sharers – people who have both separate and joint accounts (usually with an automatic percentage going into the joint account)
  • Independent Operators – people who have completely separate accounts

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Plus-One Style: Dinner at Your Husband’s Boss’s House

Plus-One Style: What to Wear to Dinner at Your Husband's Boss's House | CorporetteWhat should you wear to your husband’s boss’s dinner party?  How does plus-one style (in appearance as well as approach) differ?   Reader L wonders…

My husband and I are both lawyers in our late (or, more accurately lates-est) twenties. He recently accepted an associate position at a new firm, and one of the shareholders invited us to a small dinner at his home along with several other associates and their significant others. The dinner is not until the end of March but I am already in a panic about what to wear. Any suggestions?

We have talked about what to wear to your boss’s holiday party, but the suggestions there (post and comments) are all very seasonal, so I thought we’d revisit.  The important part here, I think, is that you’re the plus one — it isn’t your boss; it’s your husband’s boss.  In my mind this is a very different approach than when you’re going to your own work-related social event.  Things that might be of concern were it YOUR boss: being too feminine, being interesting in that “I have a life outside the office” way,  having the entire social event run in a way that it bolsters your boss’s and colleagues’ good opinions of you as a work colleague and doesn’t undermine those opinions at all… But when you’re the plus one, none of that matters.  Obviously, you’re intelligent and a lawyer yourself — don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t do/say anything that will lay the groundwork for a bad impression if you later meet another dinner attendee in a work-related capacity.  But: if you leave that evening and their impression of you is, “she’s pretty and makes a nice wife for Mr.  L,” that’s A-OK.  You wouldn’t want that if it were YOUR boss, but since it’s HIS boss it doesn’t matter.  (Incidentally, this has nothing to do with husband/wife dynamics — in general I think it’s the mark of a bad plus-one if they outshine you at your work events.  Part of having/being a good partner is knowing when to throw each other the ball and let the other person run with it, rather than trying to make all the goals yourself.  I would be peeved if my husband and I went to an event for MY work and he actively hogged the spotlight, or even if he led/perpetuated a conversation that he knew I couldn’t take part in.)

THAT SAID — what should you wear, whether it’s to your own event or your husband’s event?  My advice is kind of the same: if it’s on a weeknight, wear something you could have worn to work.   [Read more…]