It is no secret that money is one of the top reasons couples divorce and break up. You would also probably be shocked to know how many couples getting married (as in, about to spend their entire lives together) have not discussed their finances. At all. That is pretty much the same thing as an olympic skater choosing not to practice their routine before the biggest performance of their life, out of fear of failing or not knowing what mistakes may come out of the rehearsal.
Fear is understandable. Explore your fears, because it is through exploring them that you will grow and become more able to face them. It will be worth more than millions to address your money issues before you walk into the biggest relationship decision you've ever made. And here's the kicker: you don't have to solve your money problems right now. You don't have to be out of debt before you get married. You can, but you don't have to. The most beneficial thing you can do now for yourself and your relationship is to just begin talking about it. From there, your plans will expand and solidify.
Get all of your money expectations out on the table...now.
Believe it or not, the context of your world and the people around you growing up greatly influenced your belief system regarding money. Your financial expectations, desires, and fears all began forming during your formative years. They probably still are. For young couples, I cannot express enough the importance of discussing each of your unique expectations about money...before you get married, before you pay for the honeymoon on the credit card, and before you realize that you're about to bring your partner in on a heck of a lot of debt. It will prevent mounds of conflict and trust issues later in your lives if you put all of the messy, scary parts about your money out on the table at the beginning. It will have the opposite affect on your trust...it will build it.
How do I know what my expectations are?
Start sharing with one another how you saw the people closest to you growing up deal with money issues, and money in general. Was money and financial success a strong value for your parents? How did your families deal with expenditures like vacations, emergencies, or debt? Did your family even talk about these things? How? What are some rules or financial values your parents taught you? What did you see them struggle with that you hope to not have to struggle with as an adult yourself? How much money do you need to be making in order to feel satisfied and able to enjoy your life?
The list will go on. My recommendation is, especially if you are finding a lot of differences between you and your partners responses, to meet with a professional and have deeper exploration of these questions and more pertaining to both of your worlds. Having these discussions now will set you up for success later.
Give your relationship the preparation and attention it deserves. You and your partner deserve to succeed! And there is no reason why you can't. The tools are available. Contact me if you would like additional financial planning tools, or if you would like local resources!