More and more of my friends are tying the knot and as an individual with an interest in personal finance, I think it is important to reinforce that everyone should have the money talk before the marriage talk. Because marriage and joining your life together is a decision involving consent of all parties (well, in most countries anyways) it is important to understand everything about your partner, especially when you start thinking of saying vows such as “I take you as you are”. How can you take them as who they are when you don't know the full extent of who they are? Including their debts, assets, liabilities, spending style and habits?
As mentioned in a previous post, it is important to talk about money since money is one of the number one reasons why couples divorce. It makes sense since money is a symbol of our values and wants if you want to go for financial freedom and avoid a divorce down the line. We spend money on the things that matter to us (even if it's the Starbucks latte habit that you have but he doesn't share).
The Key to a Long Lasting Marriage
I was watching the news the other day and a feel-good story popped up (you know, as opposed to the usually depressing stories of people killing others or natural disasters happening) about a couple in Ontario who just celebrated their platinum anniversary, 70 years together! The reporter asked them what their tip for a long lasting marriage was and one of their tips for a long and successful marriage is to have dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. The other tip was that you should say goodnight to one another every night and give a good night kiss, even if you might be angry with each other. And that you should take care of each other.
Being able to talk to your partner cannot be understated. Many people think they can talk to their partner, but can you really? Can you bring up uncomfortable topics such as debt and how you will split the household finances and the budget?
What the Numbers Tell Us
According to a recent article by Time and Money, 40% of couples admitted that they did not discuss how they would manage the their money together before tying the knot. Once people get absorbed and warped into the black hole of wedding planning, they forget about the important thing. The marriage after that special day. My friend who has been married for a little over the year told me that her husband was upset when she didn't want to join everything they had (even money from previous to the marriage) because he wanted them to be a team. Well, she agreed to join all their income into one joint account after the wedding, but when their spending got a bit too intense for their joint bank account, she had her previous savings to back them up and bail them out.
How to Have the Talk
Business Insider of all websites has a great primer on how to have the talk about money with your future partner. Part of this money before marriage talk includes asking about their money philosophy, their assets (and debts), and whether the both of you should get a prenuptual agreement. The earlier you have this talk, the better. Meaning before the issues arise, it is easier to have the talk and it is more effective as it will bind your values and preferences together as a couple. In addition, Huffington Post suggests that you have a talk about how your parents dealt with money, because we are heavily influenced (whether we like it or not) by our parents when it comes to money, how we deal and act in relationships, and even our values.
Hopefully this will be a gentle reminder for you to have the talk with your honey about money. Grab a glass of wine or beer for that liquid courage (or just a glass of water if you feel totally comfortable talking about money in your relationship) and have the money talk!
Readers, did you talk to your partner about the nitty gritty of both of your money situations before you tied the knot?