Have you ever known a couple who separated because of finances? Money issues certainly do play a role when a marriage breaks down.
Mixing Money and Marriage
Money is not inherently good or evil. It's a tool to be used to get things that you want and need. When we talk about money, it's not just about the money, though. We are really talking about the things that money represents--security, power, control, freedom, etc. It's these "hot issues" surrounding money that makes it such a difficult thing to discuss, even with the person who is closest to us.
When you agree to marry, you also take on each other's finances and credit history. Before you say,"I do," you need to sit down to discuss your finances in detail. Not only do you need to talk about your level of income and debt as of right now, you will need to come up with a plan for managing your finances together after you are married.
If one person in the marriage spends everything they make (and more) and the other person likes to have a substantial cushion of savings to feel secure, this may be a recipe for marital disaster. The person who is the "Saver" in the relationship may start to resent the person who is more of a "Spender." If one person tends to spend money on paying bills, buying clothing for the children, and covering the cost of groceries, while the other one spends money on "fun" items such as vacations or electronics, then the person whose check goes toward everyday expenses may start to resent his or her spouse as well.
How to Avoid Becoming Separated Because of Finances
While you can't always prevent a divorce, there are a few steps you can take to keep money troubles from becoming a source of tension in your marriage.
Be Honest with Your Spouse
Many people find it very difficult to discuss money matters, even with the person they are married to. Finances may be considered the last taboo topic. We would rather discuss our sex lives than our finances, it seems!
Your spouse shouldn't be the last person to find out if you have accumulated significant debt, either before or during your marriage. For instance, if you have bad credit or have declared bankruptcy in the past, then these factors may have a bearing on whether you and your spouse can buy a house, qualify for loans, etc. Your spouse shouldn't find out about your past credit history when you have just been turned down for more credit.
Come Up With a Financial Plan You Can Both Live With
If you find it too difficult to do this yourself, then enlist the help of a financial planner or a counselor. Once you have a plan in place, then both of you will feel like you are on the same page, as far as money matters go. This will go a long way toward keeping your relationship on track as well.
Review Your Financial Plan and Make Changes as Necessary
A financial plan is not something that you write once and it's done, though. As circumstances in your life change, you will need to make changes to the plan as well. Plan to reevaluate your plan when you are ready to start a family, buy a home, save for your children's education, or change jobs.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
While a "prenup" may not seem like a very romantic thing, it does serve the purpose of setting out each spouse's obligations during the marriage and how assets will be divided if the couple were to divorce. Going through the process of drawing one up will force the couple to discuss financial issues and come up with a plan for managing financial assets after the wedding.
Even though money difficulties can put stress on an otherwise good marriage, it is possible to take steps to avoid becoming separated due to finances. As with a number of issues in marriage, communication is key to keeping the marriage on track.