Tips to Keep Money Fights Out of Your Marriage
Dearly beloved…for richer, for poorer…
Money is so serious that it’s in your marriage vows!
Whether you’ve jumped the broom or are preparing to do so, this post is to help you keep money fights out of your marriage.
Money isn’t a topic that generally comes up during the “getting-to-know-you” phase and if it does, we don’t usually spend a lot of time diving deep into it.
While I’m all about both partners preparing for the best marriage possible I have a slight bias towards women having a good pulse on their own finances because of a few key statistics:
- According to the Center for Disease Control, women live about five years longer than men;
- The Census Bureau reports women’s earnings are currently about 78% of men’s and women have a higher propensity to live in poverty over the age of 65 compared to men;
- Women are known to save and invest less money over time when compared to men.
With statistics like that, I know it’s critically important for women to spend time making sure our financial affairs are in order before we get into a relationship and definitely before a marriage.
Let’s get right down to business with tip #1!
If you’re frustrated just from reading the word there’s a possibility that you don’t have enough of it (just saying).
We all know that being in a relationship requires an incredible amount of compromise and patience. Matters of the heart and matters related to money are quite similar in that way.
Have you ever tried saving for a new house, a new car, funding college AND saving for retirement all at once.
It’s like taking advanced calculus and advanced organic chemistry in the same semester!
It’s difficult to save for multiple big ticket items while trying to maximizing retirement and investment opportunities.
You might need to delay the purchase or rework your retirement plan all together.
A lack of patience is a sure-fire way to keep the fights going in a marriage.
#2 Discuss your individual financial principles and philosophies early & often
Self-awareness is imperative to emotional intelligence and can actually help you select the right partner.
When you’re in a relationship it’s equally important to understand your partner’s decision-making process and abilities.
A high level of emotional intelligence in a relationship allows you to be aware of your partner’s emotional health and personality while managing your reactions to their emotional energy.
It can also help keep fights in your marriage to a minimum and help you understand your partner’s financial principles and philosophies.
Learn your partner’s money route – find out how their life experiences shaped their relationship with money.
Start simple by:
Asking how they feel about money
What their earliest memories of money are
Understanding their debt situation and financial goals
Listen to my interview on the Legendary Marriage Podcast as we explore this topic more.
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 4 out of 10 marriages are second marriages.
In second marriages, the same items are still important but there’s added complexity.
You also need to roll up your sleeves to understand your partner’s perspective on preserving, sharing and protecting the assets they already have.
Let’s be honest. Just because they had money when you met them, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it.
On top of that, it’s important to know your own perspective (see my self-awareness comment above)!
If your new union will be blessed with bonus children, do you understand what plans are in place for the children’s protection and care? Do you know if it’s more important to your partner to teach wealth building principles to your children versus living for the moment?
In the thick of love, money & marriage…
#3 Understand that a marriage is both transactional and relational
Maybe the comments above about preserving and protecting assets gave you the hebbie jebbies. After all, it’s not the most romantic topic.
Hold on to your creeped out hats, folks!
As you know, marriages and some businesses are referred to as partnerships.
I’ve witnessed enough business partnerships go south because of high emotions or crazy ass behavior. I’m sure you’ve witnessed a marriage or two dissolve for similar reasons.
Transactional relationships are about an individual’s self-interests and what works best for them.
Relational relationships are about long term acceptance and choosing mutually beneficial options.
So why does that matter to you?
There will be times when decisions feel more transactional than relational. It may feel as if your partner is acting a bit more selfish than selfless (remember that time you wanted to stick a fork in his eye).
The same may be said about you. I promise that those times are often related to money.
The same Pew Research Center survey mentioned above indicates that when considering marriage financial stability ranks last!
We all know that we place a muuuuuch higher reliance on emotional aspects when deciding to get married and I am not suggesting to ignore those emotions.
However, I am suggesting to be aware when emotions, traditions or the fear of losing love, prevents us from talking about less sexy, but important, topics such as finances and financial goals.
Money is already emotional and when you add the complexities of a marriage, it brings a literal sense to the phrase emotional roller coaster.
When someone decides to start a business partnership, they are concerned about the viability of the business, the opportunity to make money and generally make a difference in their families, communities or the world.
They are concerned about both the transactional and relational aspects.
Those same considerations apply for marriage.
#4 it’s okay to break the rules
There are so many rules and traditions when it comes to marriage that is often hard to keep up.
It’s also difficult to break traditions because it makes us uncomfortable.
Heck, it even makes our family’s uncomfortable.
While it’s harder for us to adapt to change, usually it’s necessary.
Here are two examples related to marriage and money.
1.You don’t have to have joint accounts
If you have different financial philosophies than your partner it may make sense to start out your marriage with separate accounts.
If you have joint accounts today and you find yourselves butting heads over money, try splitting accounts.
Some marriages have success with keeping accounts separate forever but having one or two joint accounts for household and familial responsibilities. On the other hand, some join their finances after they get a good footing in the marriage. Having joint accounts just because that’s “what married couples do” is not a good enough reason.
Regardless of the action you choose, it’s always important to make sure that each individual feels that they have some amount of financial autonomy.
2. Discussing money is not taboo
How many times have you heard it’s not polite to talk about money? Maybe you’ve been shut down when you ask questions because “it’s not the right time.”
Of course, I talk about money for a living so my comfort level is higher than most, but it’s important for you to:
– have planned family financial discussions
– assemble your personal financial team
The days of “your _____________ (insert mother/father) handles all the finances and I don’t know anything” statements should be over.
I encourage you to be a part of purchasing decisions for big ticket items as well as smaller ticket items.
I know money can be sensitive and emotionally overwhelming at times to discuss, however, I encourage you to be FIIRM and not avoid the conversations.
While marriage may be bliss, financial ignorance is truly not.
Many may say “for richer, for poorer” but I can’t think of anyone truly interested in the poorer part.
Grab your Couple’s Financial Checklist to discover the items covered in this blog post as well as some extra details to help you and your partner stay on track to keep money fights out of your marriage.
Founder & Managing Director
Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.