Is no surprise to most consumers that the most common cause of arguments among married couples is money and finances. In fact, it’s been found through numerous studies that disagreements over money are the leading cause of divorce.
If you’re in a relationship and ready to take it to the next level (marriage, that is) it’s important to know what type of habits your soon-to-be spouse has, financially speaking. It doesn’t mean that you have to find someone that sees perfectly eye-to-eye with you on finances, because that’s very unlikely, but just that you find someone who’s close.
That’s not as easy as it might sound according to Jacquette Timmons, the author of Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate. A financial behaviorist, Ms. Timmons says research shows most of us are attracted to someone who, financially, is our opposite. (Human nature, go figure.)
With that in mind, today’s blog will help you to have an open and frank conversation about your financial habits with your soon to be better-half so that, once you’ve tied the knot, it stays tied. Enjoy.
First and foremost you must understand your own habits and behaviors when it comes to money. Understanding what shaped the way you look at money, how you handle it and the habits you have financially are very important when it comes to finding a mate that is compatible.
Although it might seem a bit dishonest, observing your partners habits and patterns with money while you’re dating is a very good idea. See how they make decisions, how they spend and, if you see something that triggers a concern, made a mental note of it for later. If you end up seeing a lot of things that trigger concern, you might want to reconsider that wedding proposal.
You can always be forthright as well, and include money into your daily conversations. This is probably not something you want to do if you’ve just started dating but, if you’ve known each other for a few months or even for a few years, you probably talk about everything else already, so why not add money into the mix?
While you’re doing that you need to keep an open mind of course because, frankly, even if someone has different opinions and habits then you do when it comes to finances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wrong and you’re right, or vice versa. Try and keep judgmental attitudes out of your conversation about money and make it more about curiosity and wanting to know more about your partner.
During your conversations, if you hear something that alarms you, don’t sweep it under the rug but instead ask about it in a respectful way. For example, if your partner tells you that they have $15,000 in credit card debt and that they’re only paying the minimum every month, asking why in a nonjudgmental way to find out the answer is a good idea. Knowing the reason that they accrued so much debt, and why they’re only paying the minimum, can give you a lot of information and insight into the way they handle their finances.
Bethy Hardeman, a consumer advocate for Credit Karma, says that “You shouldn’t be engaged and moving towards marriage without having found out something about your partner’s financial situation,” and goes on to say that “”Imagine marrying someone and finding out they have debt, and it [suddenly] becomes your debt too.”
This is especially important if you’re getting married later in life, especially if you have amassed a good bit of wealth. If you have wealth and you marry someone that has a huge amount of debt, you might find yourself spending your money to pay off their debt. Of course if that’s something you wish to do because you love them, so be it, but it’s certainly not your responsibility and could negatively affect you as you get older.
There’s an old adage that goes “love conquers all” but, in today’s day and age, seeing eye to eye, financially speaking, with your spouse will give you much better odds of having a successful marriage.