A nice pic of a couple on the beach
One spouse says to another in a heated discussion: “The problem is that you have changed since we got married!”
Response: “Maybe, but the problem with you is that you have not!”
I do not know where I heard this, but to me, both are right, and both are wrong. There is sitting on the fence for you! The interaction highlights the challenges couples face when two separate lives come together with money being a flashpoint for many. Fighting about money is the highest cause of divorce in the US and the UK at least and possibly many other places too.
Getting married has legal and financial implications. Before getting married or cohabiting, should you think about the way it is going to be at a practical level before taking the plunge?
Like it or hate it, your fiancé/partner has their own money life, which existed before you came along. They did things their way with earnings, saving, and spending, so it needs to be respected, if not agreed with.
Discussing these points below should be as comfortable as possible for both of you. It should not be at 10 pm when one of you abruptly turns off the TV and announces: ” we need to talk! “. Many would just like to walk calmly to the bathroom and escape out the window.
Maybe try to do it while out for a walk; or over dinner; or in a relaxed setting. Do not overload it. Talking about money is hard enough so do not make it harder.
So, below are some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself and/or each other to clear the air (before it gets blue down the line).
- Will we have a joint bank account?
- What decisions do we need to make jointly or separately?
- Do you hide any money issues from your partner?
- How do you think you think differently about money?
- When and where should you talk about money?
- What are you, a saver, or a spender?
- What lessons have you learned in your financial life so far you would like to tell me?
- Are there any financial behaviours that annoy you about the other?
- What professional financial support (accountant, financial advisor) do you need and want, and how will you approach this?
- What way do you see your financial life working out?
- What outside influences might cause conflict over money?
- Do you think you are better with money than your partner?
- How much time are you going to spend on finances each month?
- Who will do a budget, and who will do the shopping?
- If one earns more than the other, how will this be tackled?
- Will we have a “household rainy day fund”?
- If one of us loses our jobs/gets sick/made redundant, what happens?
- Are you going to judge each other on past financial behaviour?
- If it is a blended family, how will this affect money and financial obligations?
- House ownership. Who owns it, who is on the mortgage and the deeds, and why is this important?
I am going to leave out questions like “what did your last slave die of?” and “why don’t you put down/up the toilet seat?” Not helpful.
It is a good start if these topics are at least “out there”. It will form the basis of a kind of contract about money which both will have had a chance to discuss and air views. This will reduce the likelihood of a fight over money. Hopefully, an agreement can be reached about how to communicate and decide and solve problems in the future. Not everything will be rosy after this but at least you know where you stand on the important points.
Leave the bathroom window on the latch for a quick exit, just in case.
If you want to discuss these or any other money and behaviour related issues, why not contact me here. My coaching is for individuals, couples and those looking to get out of debt and stop fighting about money.