Marriage and money go hand in hand. Yet, it isn’t easy to confide in your partner about your finances.
Yes, money is a tricky subject for most couples to broach. One Brazilian study on the biggest factors in marital unhappiness found that money was one of the most common problems faced by couples. Not only is money one of the biggest arguments couples have, it’s also one of the most repetitive and salient topics of conflict.
When I first got engaged, money became a sore subject between me and my fiancé and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
Is it because of the pay gap between races and genders? Was it that my fiancé was making more money than I was? Or was it because I was embarrassed to admit that I was bringing debt into our marriage?
Here are 6 expert views on how to balance marriage and money – and keep your sanity while doing it.
Open Up the Lines of Communication
When my husband and I were first dating I always thought we were great at communicating. We always talked about our days, shared funny stories, and felt comfortable talking about things that were irking us.
In an ethnically diverse study, newlywed couples were surveyed over the first 3 years of marriage to examine whether communication affects relationship satisfaction.
The results revealed that “more satisfied couples communicate in a more positive manner (more positive, less negative, and more effective), with robust findings for positivity and negativity across husbands and wives.”
My man and I were great at talking about everyday things, but when it came to money matters, we were both quiet as mice.
This was all well and good while we were dating, but once we got married and decided to buy a house together, we needed to get real about our financial communication – fast.
Create an Agreeable Budget
If you and your spouse want to make it in the world of shared finances, you need to talk about all things money.
Creating a budget and deciding how to spend vs. save your money also means discussing your future together. Do you want to:
- Save for retirement
- Start a family
- Travel the world
- Buy or rent a place
- Have an emergency fund
- Get a prenup
- Buy a car/boat/motorhome
- Go back to school
- Get out of debt
- Share money/have separate bank accounts
Once you know these things, you can start compiling a reasonable budget each month that you both agree on.
Earn Financial Trust
I soon realized that one of the reasons my boyfriend and I were having so many problems talking about money was because we hadn’t given each other the chance to prove ourselves financially. We had never shared bank accounts or helped one another pay bills. Our finances had been completely separated all these years.
Experts agree that trust is important to a happy marriage, and one way you build trust with your spouse is by developing a good financial reputation. My now-husband and I eventually earned each other’s financial trust by:
- Being truthful about what we were spending
- Sticking to our agreed-upon budget
- Communicating about how we felt money should be spent and saved
- Consulting one another before purchasing large items
- Respecting the financial contributions we were each making to our household
By being maintaining honesty and respect regarding our marriage and money, we were able to get out of debt quickly all while strengthening our relationship.
Talk About Money as Early as you Can
Trust me when I say that the way my husband and I ended up opening up about our finances is not the way you want to go about things.
We were in a mortgage meeting with my husband’s bank to get approved for a home loan when we first opened the pandora’s box of marriage and money.
The highly aggressive bank associate was asking for access to my banking information. Even though I had agreed to be on the loan and had printed off all the necessary paperwork to participate, I was horrified at the thought of exposing myself financially to my partner.
The nearly eight grand I was bringing into our marriage was humiliating, and I didn’t want the first time I opened up about my little secret to my husband to be in front of a complete stranger.
Instead, I ended up outright refusing to cooperate, like a child, and left the bank in tears.
Did I mention we were young when we got married? If not, this story summarized my maturity level at the time perfectly.
Needless to say, the sooner you and your spouse can talk about your finances, the better.
Remember You’re Partners
For some reason, after my husband and I said “I do” I had a real problem with letting him into my financial life.
I became defensive when he offered to help me pay off my incredible debts.
“But, we’re partners,” he said during one discussion, giving me helpful, puppy-dog eyes. “We’re in this together, remember?”
Teamwork is the key when it comes to ridding your relationship of debt. Don’t be stubborn and refuse help from someone who loves you. Especially not when your debt is affecting both of you.
Don’t Neglect Your Partner
Marriage and money go hand in hand not only because a wedding is expensive, but because money is needed to progress in marriage and take certain steps, such as buying a house and starting a family – both things we were keen on doing.
But don’t let your desire to make more money ruin the great thing you have going in your relationship. My husband and I know two close friends who ended up separating because they were working so much “for their marriage” that they weren’t actually spending time together anymore.
Whether couples are headed out on a date night or washing dishes side by side, experts reveal married partners who spend time together experience greater happiness and less stress than couples who do not.
In our modern society, money should no longer be an awkward subject for couples. Do as I did and learn to talk about money as soon as you can in your relationship. Agree on how to budget your finances, learn how to communicate, and don’t neglect your spouse.
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