Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year to get engaged and February is commonly known as the “month of love”! So, we thought it might be a good time to look at the role of money as it relates to marriage and relationships. No, we do not intend to “ruin” a good thing with bad vibes! Both love and money can be good things with forethought, cooperation and a positive attitude.
Financial conversations between engaged partners can set the tone for all the financial matters they will encounter. It will open up their views on money, as well as their financial histories. It is heavy conversation, but love and money are two subjects that can produce either harmony or division in a relationship, so the sooner communication can be established, the better possibility of financial harmony.
There are all kinds of financial topics couples can discuss before “tying the knot”, but at this exciting moment in their lives, it’s not uncommon for this topic to be uniquely avoided. Here are some suggested approaches for discussion:
- Who is more oriented toward savings and who more toward enjoying the current benefits of good income?
- How do each of you feel about managing money separately or together?
- Learn about your family financial histories and experiences around money when you were growing up.
- Discover each other’s attitudes toward debt and how to manage it in your family – be honest.
Talking openly about money is difficult! It’s highly personal, sensitive information and we are not taught how to talk about it. When gathering your courage and addressing this topic, ease into it, don’t push and rush head first into everything at once. Some suggestions for ground rules in discussions might be:
- Give each other the benefit of the doubt, while suspending judgment or being defensive.
- Do not ask questions that you are not be willing to answer yourself.
- Be polite and considerate – keep voices calm, give lots of space for listening to each other with open minds.
- Set aside specific times and shared time limits for each other’s sharing.
- Value your differences as potentially complementing and balancing your partner’s differences and seek to understand each other’s stories for how their attitudes came to be formed. Be aware of deeper meaning behind strong differences. Be prepared to bring in a third party, like a couple’s therapist, if needed.
While this is just touching the surface of a very touchy subject, there is no denying that the deeper issues will present themselves at some point along the way. And there is no time too early to begin if the relationship is to handle this most common source of conflict in marriage. These suggestions can help to open up your approach to healthy communication about money matters and thinking together about merging your financial lives. Your discussions about money can be one of the strongest bonds in your relationship as you learn more about each other’s approaches and attitudes. Remember, you will be laying a firm foundation for your life together.
Have a great weekend!