A marriage can be a wonderful partnership, but sharing finances with your partner can get challenging if you aren’t communicating and operating as a team. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey by Ramsey Solutions, fights about money are the number 2 cause of divorce in America, behind infidelity.
And so, the dance of money and marriage is a difficult one If you and your partner do your best to stay in step with each other, you can make it work! We’ve put together this list of a few of the top tips for handling finances in marriage.
- Keep a Budget
The first step to managing shared finances is being in control and knowing what is going on. Expenses can easily get out of control if you aren’t paying attention. Sit down with your partner and make a list of monthly income and expenses.
Once you have a handle on the reality of your spending and income, you can decide where and how you might want to make changes. Once you have decided on a budget, work together to stick to it the best you can.
As with marriage in general, a partnership cannot succeed without good communication. Discuss your money history and philosophy together. Your financial conflict and your opposing money types are a result of themes and mores learned from your family, religion, and culture. If you and your partner want to resolve financial conflict, you must first understand your respective relationships with money. Discuss what your family taught you about money.
Have regular money conversations and discuss your finances and planning. Even if one person handles paying most of the bills, both partners should still have an idea of where they stand financially as a couple. If one person does handle more of the financial responsibility, that person should be open and honest and try to always keep their partner informed.
Any debts either partner has should be openly disclosed to the other, especially because in some circumstances you can be held liable for your spouse’s debt.
If your talks about money routinely devolve into arguments or flat-out fights, it may be a good idea to seek counseling.
- Plan for the Future
You and your partner are in it for the long haul, so don’t forget to consider the future of your finances and not just your present situation. Talk about your goals for the future: do you want children? You may want to save for their college tuition. What about retirement? What age do you and your partner want to retire? You will want to discuss these things with your partner so that you can plan your investments accordingly.
You also want to make sure you have a current will in place to protect both of you (and children) in the event that the other passes on.
Money and Marriage: Like All Good Things, It Takes Work!
It takes work, focus and effective communication to make sure money doesn’t cause contention or conflict in your marriage. Make sure you learn about your partners relationship to money and patterns of spending. This will help you feel more confident about pursuing a life of financial security as a couple. Sometimes, it helps to bring in another voice to help you learn how to better have some of these discussions.
If you are interested in couples counseling to help you as you navigate money issues in your relationship, contact us for guidance and support!