Preparing Your Finances BEFORE Marriage

A photo of a calculator and pen Discussing money issues before marriage is a crucial step for young couples.

Love conquers all, except for money related divorces. The second leading cause of divorce in America is money issues, based on a 2019 Ramsey Solutions study. More often than not, blissful young couples tie the knot too soon, making perpetual vows without considering perpetual circumstances. In reality, couples should have a serious, heart-to-heart conversation on everything financial they can think of BEFORE marriage.

This isn’t just about wedding expenses. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. A wedding, for all it’s worth, is a single day event. In marriage, however, very few couples are prepared to face an onslaught of money issues come the next month, let alone the next 40 years.

Of the list of things to do before marriage, how many couples choose to go to counseling or take the opportunity to truly know the person they are going to spend the rest of their lives with? Dealing with heartbreak, differences, and insecurities before marriage is prudent, as well as tackling money issues.

To be clear, this isn’t a rich vs. poor problem. It could be trust issues, insecurity issues, personality issues, or even addiction, surfacing as money problems. Yes, we all know you’d rather be crying in a Ferrari, but pain is still pain, and whatever problem you are facing, money can’t always fix it.

The unfortunate reality is that many couples get married without really getting to know their partners. Whether it’s the sweet innocence of youth, novice naivité, or sad desperation, some couples rush through the marriage process like ordering fast food. As they eventually come to find out, married life is the hardest task of all. And like with any endeavor worth undertaking, success lies in preparation.

Engaged couples who are still floating on cloud nine would be best advised to come down to earth and have a thorough evaluation of the financial aspect of their lives moving forward. Getting to know you and your partner’s spending habits, money philosophy, and current standing early on will save you years of frustration, resentment, and distrust between each other.

Knowing Your Money Philosophy

You know her favorite color is indigo. She wears a size 7 and watches reruns of Friends every Friday night. These are things you find out before the 2nd date. Getting to know someone’s views on money is like taking a deep dive into the very depths of their psyche. Views on money are rarely about cash. They are reflective of someone’s upbringing and experiences, including their trust and integrity.

Some people become very emotionally charged when it comes to financial issues because oftentimes, they bring out deeper, graver issues like pain, lack of self-esteem, or past trauma.

Money philosophy can go the other way as well. Some people associate success solely with money. Perhaps by not earning a certain level of income, one spouse becomes a disappointment to the other. Being in debt can also bring out each other’s demons, causing arguments and increasing resentment. For others, it could be no bother at all.

Knowing a partner’s personal connection with money is often vital in keeping a marriage strong. Understand whether your spouse is prudent, thrifty, an occasional spender, or a splurger. Know each other’s emotional response to how money is earned and managed.

Because your financial situation is more likely to resemble a roller coaster than a space rocket, your emotional responses will vary. Knowing your capacity to handle money issues as well as your spouse’s will give you a certain level of preparation once the waves come in.

Managing Expectations

Knowing how to handle each other’s financial expectations is absolutely vital if you want to avoid resentment and disappointment in your married life. So what are some expectations you need to look out for?

Being the Provider

The first thing you need to figure out is providership in the family. Traditional married couples agree that the husband takes this as his primary role. These days, however, more and more couples have both the man and woman working to provide. Then you have stay-at-home husbands with the wife being the primary earner.

Whichever format you subscribe to, make it clear to your partner. Many men, whether unwarranted or not, resent not being the provider. In cases where the wife earns more than the husband, this becomes a cause of low self esteem for him. In this case, affirmation, conversation, and planning are important.

What You Want In Life

When you get married, you may envision having a house, a new car, or children. Perhaps you want to pursue a new business or career. Whichever your desire may be, it will cost money. If over time you are unable to acquire certain things, or sacrifice certain wants for the wants of your partner, you may develop resentment.

Talk with your partner about what you want, what you can do without, and what you are willing to compromise. Talk about what you are willing to sacrifice and what you will be disappointed not to have.

Doing this, you will be able to manage spending, save money, and ultimately be more comfortable with your other half.

Maintaining Trust

People like to hold on to their own privacy and sense of individuality during marriage. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of thinking, understand that keeping secrets can lead to cracks in your marriage. You may have a bank account your wife doesn’t know about. Perhaps there are assets you have not disclosed to her. Worse would be if one of you had significant debt that the other doesn’t know about.

As difficult as it may seem, you both need to be transparent with each other. This is how trust is formed, maintained, and strengthened. Understandably, you may not be 100% aware of every single transaction, like that one time you went out with your friends and spent too much on beer. But if you constantly hide things, they have a way of showing up, and not just through your credit card statements.

No long term relationship can survive without trust. Money is such a sensitive issue for some people that they can only be transparent with someone they fully trust. If both of you can be totally honest with your finances, then you have made a huge step in your marriage. One good relationship advice for couples who are planning to get married is be honest and transparent with each other as much as possible.

There are many factors to consider before marriage, and by taking the time to familiarize yourselves with these factors, you are sure to have no trouble dealing with finances in the future.

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