What You Should Be Doing for Your Wife: An Open Letter to Dads

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Prepare your family for what the future might bring and then put it out of your mind.

Dear Dads,

I’m writing to you today to tell you a story about a man who was very much just like you. He was a family man; A husband who adored his wife and kids. He ran a small business, which kept him busy most days from early in the morning until well past 7 or 8 pm. Even when he was home his cell phone rang constantly demanding that he put out the “small fires” of his business. His wife stayed home with their kids. She was college educated and worked for a while after their first was born. But they made the decision she would run the house and care for the children full time until they were older.

This was a common American family: Husband who worked, wife who stayed home… three kids and a dog in the yard.

The husband took care of the finances for the family. They had some savings, a few stocks and bonds, and growing equity in their home in California. He was quite pleased with himself at how he maintained his family’s stability.

Several years earlier he begrudgingly attended a seminar on life insurance. “Protect your family,” they told everyone that day. Insure your whole family. It went in one ear and out the other for the man. He had a better idea. Since he was the only breadwinner in his family, he would only need to insure himself. Replacing his earnings was really the important thing.

“If I die, the insurance will replace what I’d have earned had I been working all of those years,” he told himself. “If my wife dies, I’m still going to be working so there’s no need for insurance for her.”

He considered himself clever. Unlike some who literally forget to provide life insurance for members of their family, this was an intentional financial strategy for him. He was actually pleased with himself that he had figured this out and saved his family thousands of dollars.

Then one day his wife got a headache.

It came and went quickly. Then it came back and stayed a bit longer.

Then it came back and wouldn't go away.

Tests were done. Scans, blood work, MRIs, etc. The works. There was some fear and anxiety of course, but mostly confusion. This was a perfectly healthy 37-year-old woman after all. Surely this was a pinched nerve, or bizarre early onset menopause. Or maybe she’s got one of those extreme reactions to gluten…

Then a balding man in a white lab coat took him into a small conference room and said the word “glioblastoma”. Brain cancer. And it’s in a place where it is impossible to go get.

Inoperable. Brain. Cancer.

Everything you can imagine about what came next is likely to be spot on. Chaos, anger, fear, gripping pain that reaches into your core… This man’s world was rocked as he watched the love of his life suffer and die just 16 days after being diagnosed.

In the acute stage of grief there is a hurt that is staggering. This man found himself doing all he could to get his kids off to school each day and then, upon returning home, collapsing on the floor in a heap of tormented grief.

Work was not an option. Everyone advised him to take “some time off”. He wanted to do just that but the work couldn't wait. Within two weeks he faced an excruciating decision: Stay at his job earning the money needed to care for his family, or, quit the job and stay close to home for the kids’ sake and give them the time and attention they needed in the aftermath of losing their mother. This option of course meant losing the income the family needed.

It was a Sophie’s Choice.

I will save the ending of this story for a moment and ask you a question: Are you prepared? I know you have plans. But are you prepared? Are you prepared for when your plans go awry? For when the unexpected happens to your family? Are you prepared for the possibility of that balding man in a white lab coat taking you or a family member into a small conference room and uttering the word, “glioblastoma.”

“It’ll never happen,” you say. “I’m healthy. My wife is healthy,” you say.

Right. Except there will be 1.6 million new cases of cancer diagnosed this year. And as horrific as that  number is, cancer is the number 2 cause of death in this country (American Cancer Society, Cancer Fact & Figures 2014).  That’s a lot of people being brought into a lot of small conference rooms…

The point is of course, if you are going to be a man who wants to be fully prepared for whatever life brings his family, then you will want to consider insuring both you and your wife, whether she earns an income or not. You will not want to face life without her, and worry about money too.

Like I did.

Yes, by now I imagine you've figured out that I was that man in the story. I lost my beloved wife Cathy in a blink of an eye. And in those days after she was gone I had to face those horrific choices, all because of the other choice I’d made, not to insure both of us. So on top of feeling grief, fear, and anxiety, I also felt overwhelming guilt. I had consciously placed my family in jeopardy and now we’d all have to pay for it.

My reason for writing this open letter is to let you know that I’m praying for you. Being a man, a husband, a father and breadwinner, is a tough job. It takes great strength and character. It also takes courage to not just provide but to also prepare.

I pray for you and your family. That you will provide as long as you can. And that you prepare for those times when you can’t.

In the end, God blessed me with a new family. I remarried a couple years after losing Cathy. Together we now have five kids. When we blended our family together the first thing we did was sit down with someone we trust and make sure that all of us were insured properly.

I realize that no one wants to think about these things. No one, myself included, wants to think about dying or losing your spouse to cancer. No one wants to talk about insurance either. It’s boring and expensive and, when you’re young, seems so unnecessary. I get that.

I have a great way for you to stop talking and thinking about all of that. Go get it taken care of. Prepare your family. And then, put it out of your mind.

 

Written by Michael Spehn

This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).

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