Marriage is a beautiful thing. In the midst of this beauty though, resides conflicts that are not often discussed. One of the common causes of conflict is finances. Disputes over finances are one of the top three issues in marriage in almost every survey or study I have seen on the topic.
What causes this tension? The three top finance-related issues that couples have are: lack of communication, past financial history, and understanding roles. Yep, you guessed it, the issues that couples have about their finances usually has little to do with the money itself. Let’s take a deeper look.
When working with couples, I have noticed the top issue is a lack of communication. Men and women often have certain things they want to do with the money that they have earned. Sometimes these things conflict with one another, but it is never communicated.
One of the first things I tell couples is to discuss finances. If this conversation is difficult, ask a third-party to sit in to assist. I sometimes work with couples in this area.
As a couple, answer the following questions:
- How will we handle the household bills? Will we split them evenly? Will one spouse handle all the bills, have a joint bill pay account or assign certain bills to each spouse?
- Should we have a joint account where funds from each spouse goes?
- Should we maintain a joint account for household expenses and separate accounts for those things we want individually?
- Will we invest jointly or individually?
- Will we save individually or jointly?
- Which of us handles money the best?
- Do we promise not to keep any financial secrets from one another? (You can tell a lot about a person by understanding where their money goes.)
- Are we committed to planning a financial future as a couple?
- What are our past experiences with money? (Tell your money story, be truthful.)
- How did you see your parents handle their finances? (Tell their money story from your point of view.)
- Are you a saver, spender or somewhere in the middle?
- Do you find that you go shopping when you are upset or feeling down?
- Are you a spontaneous shopper?
These questions are a good starting point to understand your spouse and his or her money habits. Believe it or not, this type of conversation can get very difficult due to the emotions these conversations can pull out—but these difficult conversations are necessary for the sake of your marriage and your spouse.