When you got married, you were probably thinking about true love and “happily ever after.” This is a beautiful sentiment, but life is more complicated. It often comes with a big surprise the first time financial matters come up. Talking about money before marriage can help avoid future issues.
Imagine newlyweds house hunting when they find the perfect place. It seems like a dream come true. They apply for a mortgage and are denied. From here, things get tense quickly.
The couple argues, and secrets come out. One has a habit of paying their bills late, has a lot of debt or a past bankruptcy. This can affect their options for future borrowing and other financial issues, regardless of how much income they earn. Carefully planned futures change and tensions rise. Marriage begins to feel like a trap.
We all have a “money personality.” It is important to ensure that you are financially compatible with your spouse. Do you share the same thoughts regarding saving, spending, paying bills on time, the use of credit, and carrying debt? Communicating about money and marriage should occur before and after you say, “I do.” Money problems are a major cause of marital problems. Take time to talk about your finances in order to stay on the same page. If you and your spouse can’t reach compromise on how to spend, save, and use credit – you may start to think about divorce.
Discuss Financial Past
Your financial life probably did not start when you got married. Ideally, you will talk about money and marriage during your time dating. It is vital that you are compatible with respect to you attitudes regarding spending, saving, use of credit, and debt. Let your future spouse know what you own and what you owe. Although it may be uncomfortable at first, talking about past mistakes and how to improve is necessary to move forward.
Unfortunately, many people treat finances as a taboo topic. If you have trouble talking about financial issues, they sit like a ticking time bomb. Failed credit applications or mounting collection calls set it off, and fights begin. The trust you once had can start to slip away. Divorce may seem like the only way out.
Understand Your Differences
Money and marriage issues aren’t just about the past. Often, spouses have different financial habits. One may focus on saving, while the other spends freely and is comfortable with incurring debt. You can make this work, but you have to do it together. All too often, ignored issues create a fight that can be difficult to fully resolve.
One way to approach this is by making a budget. Be sure that you share your financial priorities. You need to know how much money you have to spend and what you plan to spend it on. Set a savings plan to make sure you keep an emergency fund. The more you plan, the less impact money problems will have on you and you will experience less conflict.
When Money and Marriage Struggles Become Too Much
Sometimes, the money and marriage battles overwhelm you. You try to talk through it, but you can’t escape the past. You try to work out a plan, but someone fails to stick to it. When this happens, it can be too much to overcome. Sometimes, working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) before a crisis arises can be helpful.
If you discover that you can’t work your financial differences out, you may need to move on. Divorce will never be easy, but it may be the option you want. The collaborative divorce professionals at Best Legal Choices can help you focus on a problem-solving and results-based divorce. If money struggles have led you to consider divorce, speak with the professionals at Best Legal Choices to learn about your options.