Money and Relationships/Debt and Divorce 

The adage that marriage takes a lot of work is an understatement. This is especially true when it comes to finances. Starting a new life as a married couple can either be a wedded bliss or en route to divorce, depending on how effectively both of you communicate. Such aspect is equally important in discussing your finances. But more than guts, that requires honesty and patience.

Video: Get a clear picture of finances before you commit to a relationship

Who Decides?

While there is no hard and fast rule as to who has the say on expenditures between couples, wisdom dictates that the one who is thriftier should be assigned the task. This does not mean that the less thrifty spouse cannot be trusted; if couples are serious in fixing their budget and saving up for the future, the one with more self-control on finances should handle the job. In a marriage, each couple has their own roles to play. Trust is essential when it comes to relinquishing control over the finances. After all, you would not marry someone you do not trust. If you can trust that person with your heart, then entrusting your money management to your spouse becomes a trifle matter.

Differences in Spending Habits

In an interesting study conducted among the different sexes, it was found that men and women view, spend, and invest money as far as Mars is from money and relationshipsVenus. Although to a relative extent, culture plays an important role as to how people perceive money; the gender speaks more of it. Bankrate published an article about this difference. Men, they say for example, are trained and expected to be the breadwinner and problem-solver of the family. Along with this role is the perception that money for men is something “to capture and accumulate value.” Men are not into spending, instead they invest. Men are not prone to wanting something, they are inclined to purchase when the need arises. They perceive money with a future-orientation. Women, on the other hand, are quite different. Based on this same study, women are raised to nurture and seek acceptance. Thus, women perceive money as a “means to create a lifestyle.” Women allocate money on things that will enhance their everyday life. For this group, money is a present-orientation. Marriage counseling experts said different shopping styles also affect one’s expenditures. While most can identify who are perennial shoppers, there are more categories. Some may shop out of need while others do so out of a whim. While some get the thrill of finding great bargains, other shoppers perceive it as a therapy. These are helpful information to understand your spouse’s spending inclination, so that you can gain more insight to how your spouse’s mind works. As you gain understanding you can encourage or restrain your spouse in spending the first moment of warning signs.

Struggling Finances and Divorce

While a financial problem is one of the identified factors in reasons for divorce, it is not the major problem why marriages do not work. In a study conducted by Jan Anderson, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, she said that rarely would financial struggles be ranked higher than fourth or fifth as the cause of divorce. In fact, financial problems as the cause of divorce are only minor indicators, merely constituting 5% of the effect. Money problems can cause tension in a marriage but it is not the main cause why marriages fall apart. There are underlying reasons, experts say, when money problems are invoked as the cause for marital problems.  

Dos and Don’ts in Financial Communication

 Finance author and expert Jean Chatzky has a few tips for couples when it comes to talking about money:

Find the Right Time. You do not have to wait for another heated argument over your finances before you can broach the subject of money. The best time to talk about your money is when both of you are calm and money is not an issue at the moment.

Initiate the Conversation. The fact is, couples can talk about anything, but money. Most people feel uncomfortable talking about their finances. If that seems to be true to both you and your spouse, you can make things easier by sharing your own thoughts on the matter. When you do, your spoengagement and wedding ringsuse is encouraged to disclose his or her opinion. That can get your conversation starting.

Be Honest. It is important to know how you feel about your finances and be honest to yourself about it. Sharing what you have may be difficult now that you are married. But the reason that you are together is because you wanted to share the rest of your life with your spouse. It takes time to get used to trusting. But if you prioritize your relationship, trust becomes essential as you turn over the reins of your finances to your spouse (if your spouse is handling that).

Get A Counselor. If both of you find it difficult to share how you feel about your finances, start bringing in a fiancé counselor. That can help you get started on communicating about your money and settle issues if you have any.

Ways To Communicate Finances to Your Spouse
Jean Chatzky has additional tips on ways to communicate money to your spouse:

Track your spending. Never underestimate the power of budgeting. When you plan your budget, you see where your money is going and you can discuss these with your spouse. Through budgeting, both of you are aware how you spend your money.

Agree to Disagree on matters. As there are many ways to kill a chicken, so are ways to save money. People have different approaches to saving money. Although you love your spouse, your personalities are unique and there are times that you may not be in the same wavelength. Compromise is important. On issues you cannot agree on, you can just agree to disagree.

Assign Who Will Pay the Bill. While one will handle the budget and saving, the other can take care of meeting payment dues. This spouse can shoulder the responsibility of making sure the bills are paid on time. This way, you work as a team and both of you are exerting efforts in keeping your finances in good shape.

Video: A marriage merges lives AND money

Merging Finances, Pros and Cons

When you get married, you merge not only as a couple, but also in everything that you own. This includes finances. Some of the tips in communicating money to your spouse were already laid out for you. When you merge your finances, you are letting your spouse know that you are one and you trust each other. This creates a healthy atmosphere of marital union. However, communication is crucial in this aspect because both of you will have to be responsible in managing your credits. Agree on which necessities for both of you are and allow a few splurges every now and then. Agree on which bank you opt to open a joint account in and decide whether you will apply for separate or joint credit card plans. In marriage, you share not only the advantages but also the disadvantages of money management. If you are not entirely transparent on your expenditures, arguments will eventually break out. Communication is important.

money and relationships

Protecting Yourself From Partner’s Debt

Once again, communication is important in this aspect. Whatever debt your spouse incurs will inevitably become your liability. This is why coming into agreement on how both of you will handle your finances is crucial. Prevention is better than cure. If your spouse needs reminding on being prudent about expenses, do so in a loving manner.