Marriage requires commitment and open communications. However, there are many topics that are quite difficult for couples to discuss. As an example, money and financial woes, remains one of the top reasons for divorce.
This article will highlight 6 money topics you should discuss before marriage along with setting a few rules to keep the conversation in a positive direction.
Why Money Is Difficult to Discuss
There are many reasons why it is so difficult to talk about money. Based upon my experience working as a money coach, I see two main reasons.
One, money requires math, meaning you need to keep track of income and expenses in order to improve your money management skills. Math and numbers frightens people, so they choose to ignore what they are spending, saving, and earning.
Two, money and how it is utilized is wrapped up in emotion. Emotions around money are formulated during our early years when we see how it impacts our upbringing. Emotion affects how we shape our choices during our adult years.
6 Money Topics and Questions to Ask Before Marriage
- Share your current money situation
- This means sharing what your financial picture looks like. It does not mean sharing your user ID and passwords for your bank accounts and credit cards. It does mean being honest about how much money you owe in credit card debt, student loans, auto loans, and the mortgage.
- Do you monitor your income and spending as well as your net worth?
- If you are budgeting, share how you are doing it. Maybe it is something your intended spouse could use as well. If you are not watching what you are spending, how do know if you are spending within your means?
- Discuss what financial goals are important to you
- Saving money for specific goals is one of the best ways to achieve them. However, you may find what is a top priority for you is quite different for your soon-to-be spouse. Both of you should list, in order of importance, your goals. Talk about how closely aligned or the differences you have.
- Having open discussions about your monetary goals will help when you are trying to make decisions later in your marriage. You should realize your goals are likely to change as you age.
- Will you combine your finances, keep it all separate, or some combination of both?
- There is no right or wrong answer. Each couple has unique reasons as to why they will or won’t combine their finances. What is important is to clearly define how your finances will addressed. It does not mean that you can not change the arrangement at a later date.
- Talk about your experiences with money growing up and what you learned or did not learn from your parents
- We shape our relationship with money at an early age. Understanding what your experiences were like growing up will tap into the emotional aspect of making financial decisions.
- Are you a saver vs spender?
- Suppose you had a windfall of $1,000 or even $10,000, what do you think you would choose to do with it? This topic closely ties with the financial goals above.
A Few Ground Rules
It’s critical that you keep your conversation a conversation and don’t turn it into a battle. None of these topics have a right or wrong answer. This means it is not about winning or losing. Therefore, before you begin set a few ground rules.
- Keep the tone pleasant and do not raise your voice. Yelling has no place in the conversation.
- Be respectful of each other’s feelings and acknowledge those feelings. Remember there is a lot of emotion surrounding money.
- If one person gets upset, allow them to call a time-out. No questions asked. Give yourselves 24 hours to reflect as to why both or either one of you got upset. Share this with your partner.
- Be willing to admit your mistakes. It is part of being human. It is not a defect.
Being able to talk about money before you are married will increase your chances of a more successful marriage. However, it should not be a one-time discussion. Keep the lines of communication open.
Did you talk about money before you got married? Do you have any tips for couples to help them discuss money?