Couples who fight over money once a week are 30 percent more likely to get divorced, according to a Utah State University study. Is this most common source of martial conflicts a source of tension in your own relationship? You’d better fix your finances if you don’t want to divide them in a divorce.
You Bought What?!
According to a recent survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs, three in ten adults living with their honey were found to be dishonest in their spending behaviors. With trust being so crucial to a successful relationship, behind-the-back spending is a quick relationship killer.
A large accumulation of debt can leave both of you stressed and blaming each other for your financial woes. What may be more important, though, is setting clear expectations when it comes to spending. If you can afford it, determine an amount of money you can each spend as you please.
Money is an emotionally-charged topic. Married couples have enough trouble deciding which in-laws to spend the holidays with, but sharing money can be much more uncomfortable than dividing household chores. Fights over money are usually rooted in something deeper, like one’s need for control or a resistance to losing one’s spending independence. Tension over money is usually really about trust, pride, or just plain selfishness. Divorce often results when one or both marriage partners tire of sharing and want to go back to their bachelor- (or bachelorette) budget.
Show Me the Money
If you’re about to get married, or have just been married, you know transparency and building trust is crucial to your relationship’s success. If you don’t think your fiance is being truthful about their financial habits or situation, it might not hurt to peek at each other’s credit reports. While asking for proof of financial responsibility sounds awkward, it need not be; get your credit reports as you consider buying a home together.
If you have a lot to lose in a divorce, a prenup is a smart way to protect your assets. While considered a romance killer, a prenuptial agreement can actually help preserve a strong relationship by deciding many financial matters before the marriage begins. A prenup can protect you from your partner’s debts and define your financial roles in the marriage; it can also help you keep your finances legally separate – perhaps a good idea if your lover has a gambling problem.
Achieving Financial Bliss
Financial expert Louis Barajas says, “I’ve found that the most successful marriages that I’ve worked with over the last 20 years when it comes to money is when they actually do join their accounts and when they do share everything and when they share their goals.” By discussing your financial future with your partner, learning each others’ values, and by being open and honest , you’ll not only have a better relationship in general, but money will stop affecting it.
Another way to get the family finances in order without fighting is to see a financial adviser. A financial adviser won’t just tell you what to do with your money; they can serve as a mediator as you make reasonable decisions about your financial future as a couple.
For just about any marital trouble, good communication is key to reaching a solution. Talk to your partner about each of your monetary expectations, and listen to their desires. Determine your goals and how money will be handled, and stick to the rules. When expectations are clear, you’re both less likely to step on each other’s toes — or wallets.