Marriage is a commitment between two people in which, after legalizing their union, they plan to experience life side-by-side and share many moments together. A huge factor that can threaten this union, aside from infidelity, is finances. It’s not always easy to align financial goals with your partner, but it’s important to do before marriage.
About 50% of all marriages end in divorce and one of the main estimated root causes of divorce is money. If you get on the same page financially as your partner, you’ll be setting yourself up for a stronger, amiable marriage.
When I got engaged 5 years ago, everything about my relationship seemed wonderful except the financial aspect. We clashed on a few things and had different spending and saving habits, which made me nervous—mostly because we didn’t have much money. On the bright side, there were no money secrets, neither of us was stubborn about compromise, and everything was out in the open.
Setting Expectations and Understanding your Partner’s Financial Background
It’s important to realize that your partner doesn’t come from the same background as you. He or she may have grown up in a household that handled money very differently. He or she may think it’s okay to borrow money from friends and family, while you might despise it. He or she may have this notion that the man is supposed to take care of the household and be the breadwinner, while you may have a different view.
Get your Partner to Write Down Candid Goals
If your partner seems like a people pleaser, you may be worried that he or she is just going to agree with your financial goals and view on money just to keep the peace. To retrieve your partners’ true and authentic list of goals, ask him or her to jot down answers to important questions or future plans like their 5-year plan, how much they wish to save, when they’d like to buy a house etc.
For example, when I did this exercise with my partner, I discovered that he wanted to purchase a house in 5 years while I was aiming for 2 years. We discussed the reasoning behind our views, fixed any miscommunication about the homeownership process, and came to a solution we could both be happy with.
Monthly Money Meetings
Monthly money meetings are a great way for Grownups to remain on the same page financially. Depending on your schedule and needs, you can meet once or twice a month to discuss your budget in detail, your collective goals for the future, things you need to work on and more.
Money meetings are a great way to build a solid foundation based on clear communication, accountability, and encouragement—and these meetings are a commitment to each other to improve your financial situation. It opens the door for safe and productive conversations followed by actionable solutions and positive results.
Using the Right Tone of Voice and Phrases
The specific way you address your concerns is important because it can set either a positive or negative tone, which will affect the effectiveness of your conversation.
Using words and phrases like:
“You suck at _____.”
“I wish you would stop spending money on ______.”
“Why can’t you ever _______?”
This approach will not help your partner see your point of view nor make them willing to change their financial habits. It can also put up an unnecessary line of defense in your relationship.
Now read these:
“When you do _____ it makes me feel ________.”
“Instead of _______ how do you feel about trying ___________?”
“You seem to be good at _________. Can you show me how to do that?”
“I want us to be on the same page; do you have time to discuss __________?”
Using some of these phrases when expressing your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about money can help you see eye to eye with your mate.
Exploring Mediation and Financial Counseling as a Couple
If you each have varying viewpoints on certain important financial goals and topics you could seek out mediation or financial counseling.
Counseling doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is on the rocks. Recognizing that it’s important enough to seek outside counsel is a sign that you’re both committed to finding a solution. A counselor can help you approach your partner’s views without bias and offer helpful solutions. You may even want to consider taking a financial planning class for couples before marriage.
Luckily, my partner and I were both willing to change our habits and commit to doing what was logical in terms of managing finances for our family.
If you’re in a serious relationship or planning to get married, consider taking some of these steps to ensure that you align financial goals so you are both are on the same page financially.
Are you in a serious relationship? Are you on the same track with your financial goals?