For most couples today, a precursor to marriage includes discussion about finances. In an age of easy divorces this is one of the most crucial things to bring to light. After all, money is often a big source of marital conflict.
Talk of money is certainly uncomfortable for most couples entering into a long-term relationship, especially marriage. Worrying about stirring up conflict at a time when you are in love and planning a life together, times when life should be fun and exciting, causes most engaged couples to avoid having serious discussions about money.
The topic of money is a delicate one but tough conversations are sometimes necessary. Although extremely important, it can often turn into heated discussions and quarrels that can culminate in broken dreams or, at the worst, the end of a relationship. However, it is a necessary step because if you can be completely honest and upfront on money matters, you are setting yourself up in a positive way for the relationship to succeed and thrive.
Besides, if you are shy about discussing finances, how will you handle other important decisions and challenges that life inevitably will bring into your shared journey?
Turning a blind eye and assuming that all will be well just because you love each other is like wearing rose-colored glasses that can shatter at the very first light. The reality is that we live in a world where it is important to be clear about your partner and what he is about.
Going into a relationship with eyes wide open will prevent misunderstandings and disagreements. Arguments about money decrease relationship satisfaction and can cause feelings of shame, fear and isolation. Rather than reacting emotionally, welcome the conversation so that you can clear the air and go into a union without any skeletons that may surface to haunt you at a later stage.
It takes longer to recover from an argument that results from financial disagreements than any other personal issues in a relationship. Therefore it behooves couples to discuss important financial matters before tying the knot.
It is not uncommon for one or the other, or both parties to hide their debt or poor spending habits. In a committed relationship, transparency and trust is key, particularly if your intentions are for your relationship to succeed and last. On the other hand if your actions affect or destroy your partner's credit then it can cause much anger, mistrust and create a rift in your future together.
Here are seven steps that are necessary to take before you say, "I Do".
1. Disclose your debts and assets
Create a net worth statement that will give a clear overall picture of your financial standing and allow you to discuss how to handle certain issues such as taking care of any financial obligations or debts that you may have at the time.
2. Discuss long and short term goals
Talk about your goals, whether they involve buying a house, having children, adopting a certain lifestyle. Open up and share your worries and hopes for retirement and what you need to put into place (and perhaps sacrifice), that can help you realize those goals.
3. Embrace a budget
Couples just getting started in their careers can experience some challenges in meeting their shared lives together. Sticking to a budget can help set parameters as to what is acceptable and can help avert disagreements and quarrels.
4. Decide who will manage the money
Let's face it, managing household expenses, making timely payments and making sure that bills don't fall by the wayside, is not everyone's strength. The person who has a better handle on finances, who is organized and has the time, should be the one assigned to this role so all runs smoothly on the home front.
5. Discuss whether to share or pool you money
Decide if you will fully merge your finances, or have separate accounts for personal expenses and joint accounts for shared household expenses, including vacations. Laying the ground rules will help avert arguments in case one or the other makes purchases without discussing with their partner.
6. Update legal documents
Make sure certain legal documents, such as your last will and testament, durable power of attorney, health-care proxy and living will are updated and in place.
7. Review often
Plans you make when you go into marriage can change quickly due to unexpected circumstances, such as loss of a job, the birth of a child, health issues etc. So it is wise to revisit your financial goals and adjust your plans every so often.
Money-related issues are delicate and can sometimes be complicated, especially when one partner entering into the relationship has more at stake than the other. If that is the case then these matters are best discussed with a third party present. By all means involve a financial planner who can advise you on what is best for both concerned.
Having had these discussions early on will radically transform your relationship and forge an even stronger tie with your loved one. It proves that you are not marrying each other for their money and that your intentions are to grow together and nurture a meaningful life with each other.
Have you taken an honest look at how you are in your relationship with money? Have you had that money talk with your partner? If not, isn't now the time?
Be proactive and take steps to clarify your finances so that you can start looking at other things to celebrate with the love of your life. Having survived your money talks, you're free to spend your lives in love and mutual trust.
You can have all the money and power in the world but it can't buy you happiness.
And it certainly can't buy you love.
© Rani St. Pucchi, 2016
Rani is the author of the soon to be released:
The SoulMate Checklist: Key Questions to Help You Choose Your Perfect Partner
For other books by Rani St. Pucchi and for more information please visit www.ranistpucchi.com