Financial issues are a hot topic in marriage; finances are the number one reason couples divorce. In fact it has been estimated that money issues are a high factor in about 90% of divorces. For that reason it’s good to talk about your finances before you get married and make sure you are on the same page.
As many countries have been going through huge economic upheavals it isn’t a massive leap to conclude that many marriages have been impacted heavily by financial uncertainty and hardship.
Psychologists say that for many couples finances are harder to talk about than any other subject. You may find that it is a difficult subject to broach with your fiancé/e but don’t brush it under the carpet!
How do you deal with finances?
Often couples struggle because they both have a different attitudes to money. What is yours?
Head in the Sand
Some people adopt the “head in the sand” position. They would prefer to ignore the problem rather than acknowledge that it is there and it needs a solution. It is important to talk about your financial problems so you can navigate your way through the difficulties. Many people don’t want to talk about the problem because they fear rejection, blame or even shame. If you already have debt from student loans etc. don’t ignore them! Make sure that your fiancé/e knows your financial position. Take steps towards clearing the debts and getting your feet on a secure financial position. Courses like those Crown Financial Ministries
or Financial Peace University
have to offer are great resources to help you on the right path.
Head in the Air
Unrealistic expectations are a source of grief in some marriages. Have you been ‘Daddy’s little girl’ so you are used to getting whatever you ask for? Are you a son who has his every whim met? It is important to be realistic; you both need to know the income and expenditure situation so that correct financial decisions can be made. The “head in the air” personality type only hears “for richer” and not “for poorer” when they say their vows, it’s easy to become disappointed and critical when financial concerns occur. Start by taking responsibility for your spending now! Don’t spend what you don’t have.
Rely on Credit Cards
Relying on credit cards in the hope that your financial situation will change soon and you will be able to get back on track is really dangerous! Some people say that when they use credit cards they don’t feel like they are spending real money. They feel less guilt than using cash so they spend more. If credit cards give you a false sense of your income cut them up and use cash. If you already have a high credit card bill start working to pay it off so that you aren’t throwing money away on high interest charges.
Saver rather than Spender
Having money sense and having good budgeting skills is important. A ‘saver’ usually has their head screwed on financially but can have trouble being generous. Make sure you have a good balance! Couples usually hit issues if one is a saver and the other is a spender so make sure you agree on your budget. Decide which portion of your income you are going to save and make sure you allow some ‘fun money’ in your budget.
Emotion overrides logic and we convince ourselves that we deserve to spend. Couples can fall into the ‘he spent so I can spend’ trap without taking into consideration the impact that behaviour will have long term. When people get angry with each other they can adopt “revenge” behaviour. Since we work to get money and money often is a representation of our life and value, the logic continues … “If I hurt their pocket I hurt them”. If you have found that you are already doing this have an honest conversation about it. Since you are getting hitched there is no harm in getting on the same page financially before you say your vows.
Usually in a relationship both people contribute to financial problems. If “blame” is the pattern in the relationship then you need to see both sides of the situation. If you partner is spending too much (especially on the wedding) have you communicated the budget?
It can boil down to the speck and plank principle (Luke 6:22). You can see the problem with their spending but you can’t see the problem with your own.
Find the right time
So when is the right time to talk about money? It might be easier to answer the question “When isn’t the right time to talk about money?” It isn’t the right time to talk about it when you are feeling angry. If a credit card bill has just come in and you want to “talk” about it chances are it won’t be a “talk” it will be a “fight”. So don’t talk about it as a knee jerk reaction to a bill.
Talk about your wedding budget. Remember plan for the marriage not just the wedding. Be willing to cut back on some areas so that you will be able to take pressure off in the early months of marriage. It’s hard enough navigate finances in your first year of marriage without adding a huge credit bill every month!
Discuss your backgrounds
Money has a past
This past is not just rooted in your own experience with finances but also in your family’s attitude. We often inherit our reaction to finances from our parents. If our parents struggled financially and we had to watch every penny we spent then even when we have more than enough we can continue to be “careful” about every financial decision. If however our parents were affluent and did not have to worry about finances we can inherit a very casual attitude to spending. Knowing about each other’s financial past can help us see each other’s point of view.
Money is not neutral
It causes emotions to rise within us including fear, happiness, comfort, power, control etc. What does money mean to you? For me it meant independence. When I gave up work to stay at home and look after the children I felt pressure concerning finances. It felt like my independence was being stripped away even though we had a joint bank account. We had to identify the source of my stress concerning money and the feelings that went along with it. Only then could we approach the subject without it being emotive.
by Lainey Hitchman