Money can be a sticky area for a lot of couples. Most people don’t want to discuss money because they think it will lead to arguments. If you are about to get married, it is important that you have serious discussions about money before tying the knot. There’s a reason they say that personal finance troubles are one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced. If you and your partner are on the same page, you have a much higher likelihood of having a successful marriage.
Get It All Out There
Getting married means becoming a united partnership. If there are secrets or suspicions or feelings untold it can lead to problems down the road. It is important to communicate well and get everything out in the open so, at the very least, you know what you’re dealing with. Be honest and open and that includes how much debt you will or might have and how you feel about money.
You can even start by discussing how your parents were with money and what they taught you about it. You should refrain from being judgemental and critical as this does not help any situation, let alone personal finance.
Start Your Combined Budget
Combining accounts is a nice thing because it means you have more money you are working with. You should then put all of your income and expenses in one place and determine what you’re working with – a budget. In fact, you do not have to wait to work on your budget when you’re married.
You can start while you are still engaged. If you do that then you can make personal finance adjustments as you need. After you are married, it is a good idea to look over your budget each month and adjust the necessary areas as you see fit.
Joining Your Money
If you are becoming one in body and spirit, the same should be expected with your money. It is important to combine your accounts.
If you keep one area separate, this can lead to separating other areas of your life as well. Once you combine everything and work together, there is a sense of being unified.
You will discover as you work together that sometimes one partner is working ahead in one area than the other. For instance, if you come to the partnership with a lot of savings and the other is saddled with a lot of debt, work together.
The savings can be re-distributed to pay off the debt or put immediately into an emergency fund. If you decide together how you will deal with the funds AND the debt, you will be surprised how ‘together’ it can make you feel and the closer you can become.
Men and Women ARE Different
I think even the staunchest of feminists out there would agree that there are fundamental differences between men and woman. Once you understand that some of these differences exist (with exceptions, of course), you will be able to better navigate the waters of communication with your spouse.
Men tend to be bigger risk takers than women. This can translate to not saving very much for emergencies. Men also look at money as part of their identity so if there are money troubles they tend to internalise them and may even struggle with their self-esteem.
Women, however, tend to look at money as security. They will save more than men, generally, because they understand that there are sometimes unforeseen circumstances that occur that will require the use of those saved funds. Women also tend to have a fear about money.
Oftentimes, opposites are attracted to each other. For instance, a saver might be attracted to a risk taker. This can be a great thing because we all have things we need to learn from each other! The problem may develop if there is no real communication between the two parties and no respect for the other view point.
If there is mutual respect and a desire to learn from and even assimilate characteristics from your partner, you will be able to learn together and grow together.
You Are Partners
Many couples will say, “But she just won’t listen to me!” You are a partnership. Marriage isn’t easy and it takes compromise, mutual respect and understanding from both partners. If you are the ‘good’ one with money in the relationship, have patience and try to explain to your spouse how you have learned to manage money so well through the years.
The last thing you want to do is keep your money separate and let the other do as they will with ‘his’ or ‘her’ money. This will only lead to problems down the road.
It is important that you are patient and kind to each other as you travel down this marital road together. No marriage is perfect. And, no individual is perfect. There will inevitably be difficulties but if you are committed to remain united, you will be able to weather any storm, personal finance or otherwise.
Your Relationship Is Priority #1
Money can be very stressful but after all, it is just money. Your relationship should take priority over everything, including money. Just be sure that you are both in agreement about money and about how to manage it. This is where people get into trouble so if you are able to head that off in the beginning, you will be much better off.
If you decide to work together in all aspects, you will have a stronger marital life and a brighter future for yourselves and your family. It would be nice to be able to set the stage now for yourself and for your posterity. Your future children will thank you for getting your ‘personal finance house’ in place before they are even there.
Successful marriages are built on these principles and these marriages tend to be the ones that are happier and they also have more wealth. Wouldn’t it be nice to have both?