Money and marriage…a necessary discussion that isn’t very romantic and for some may be uncomfortable.
One reason I want to talk about money is because according to marriage.com, money is the second most popular reason, after infidelity, for the breakdown of a marriage.
Nothing is normal right now, but even though Covid changed the wedding industry, it hasn’t changed the need for couples to discuss the distribution and allocation of money within the home. And, let’s face it–couples are still getting married in spite of the uncertainty.
The pandemic created a huge economic crisis at every corner and it looks like it will continue for a long while. So talk openly and honestly about family finances and know what your partner is thinking.
Being married is not an automatic pass into happily ever after. There are mountains to climb, compromises to be made, and trust to be embraced. If you don’t have these things I’d say there could be issues on the horizon.
Money–Is it still “yours”, “mine”, or is it now “ours”?
Did you talk about it before you got married? How about when the pandemic hit? Did either of you lose your jobs? Are you working at home–trying to do daycare and home-school, all at once? Has the family income been impacted?
Restaurants and bars have been hard hit. There are business owners who are struggling. Do you know where your family fits into this picture? And if you don’t, why don’t you?
Some married couples deal with their finances as though they’re still roommates or separate entities all together. This has always bothered me because when you marry the separateness should cease. That’s my thought anyway.
Often before getting hitched couples will live together and have an initial agreement to each pay half the rent and split the bills. You pay your stuff and I’ll pay mine… That’s fine. Whatever…
This type of arrangement works for some but can cause a strain when one makes substantially more money and the other is constantly struggling to make ends meet. It happens. It’s real and you make it work.
But–if you’re choosing together to get married and take that next step of commitment then you may need to change things up.
Marriage does change things whether you like it or not–otherwise why do it? If it’s just about a party then have one–that’s not what marriage is all about. Once the party and honeymoon are over there needs to be a foundation of commitment.
When I think of marriage I think of two people caring for each other through thick and thin. It’s a coming together—a union—and to me, there should be equality in things like household duties and finances.
The roommate agreement needs to be torn up and a marriage started.
To come together as a family—whether it’s husband and wife/wife and wife/husband and husband/ signifies a commitment to be together, care for one another, and support each other.
This could mean a real adjustment for some especially if the pandemic has wreaked havoc on employment.
Think about it: If she makes twice the income but rent, food, and utilities are shared 50/50 and each pays their respective car loan then one is going to be broke a lot faster than the other.
There’s no harmonization of the family finances. He’s stressed and broke all the time while she has cash in her wallet. Hmm…what’s wrong with this picture?
Another scenario may be a stay at home mom who doesn’t have outside income and the family relies upon one income. Should that stay at home mom have to answer to her spouse for purchasing groceries or going shopping? Does she need to “ask” permission? or perhaps “ask” for money? How degrading is that? You need a plan.
And then look at a situation if there’s a marriage in which one partner wants to spend all the time and not contribute financially–that’s an issue too.
Does money fly out faster than it comes in? Are basic needs being met? Is one partner holding all the finances? Do you even know what your spouse makes? So many questions and there are more…
While contributions are not necessarily equal due to different earning power, there’s a basic threshold of trust, respect, and commitment that must exist to keep the lines of communication open.
So, how do you do this?
It comes down to being open and honest with each other about money, assets, and debt. Perhaps you want all the money pooled into one account with 10% automatically going directly into a locked savings account.
Maybe you need to consolidate all the debt and make it one payment. Do your homework and be ready.
Talk to a financial advisor or debt counsellors who can not only explain things but also help you work out a plan for future success. Budgets and awareness are powerful things.
This could be key in helping so neither partner is traumatized, belittled, and/or bullied.
Believe me when I say–discussions about money are stressful. Some get possessive, while others get defensive, or shut down completely.
Don’t play the blame game because it pushes your partner away. If you’re going say things like “you spend all the money” or “I don’t trust you with the money” or “you don’t contribute to the household”….Such destructive language will lead to the break down of a marriage.
Put all your cards on the table. This is a time for transparency. (Well, actually the time for this talk was before the marriage but I suppose better late than never).
Do you have a secret savings account across town? Or maybe debt you never disclosed? A past bankruptcy? Do you want control over every last penny?
Figure out how money speaks to you because it’ll be reflected in your actions and words—are you possessive? Is money power? Are you a shopaholic?
Start the discussion. Resentment builds over time and erodes trust. Don’t let money kill your relationship.