My fiancé and I are excited to be planning our wedding, but we’re already starting to encounter some tension as we talk about budgeting for the ceremony – much less how we’ll manage our finances once we’re married. Do you have any advice?
Answer: One of the greatest areas of conflict in any marriage is money. The reasons are easy to understand. When you put two people together with one cheque book who have different value systems, different personalities, different training, different goals, and different priorities, you’re bound to have conflict. Determining how you are going to make financial decisions and who pays what bills, who determines the budget, etc., are essential aspects of preparing for marriage.
You should also address your respective beliefs about credit cards (and whether either or both of you are bringing any credit debt into the marriage), along with topics like student loans, children (when and how many), how soon you expect to buy a house, and other lifestyle expectations.
It can actually be a good idea for young couples to prepare a combined budget before they get married. Most of the financial conflict that occurs in marriage can be avoided if couples spend some time talking through these issues prior to the wedding. These questions assume an even larger significance when divorced or widowed individuals come together in a second marriage.
Many of the money problems that arise in marriage are actually communication problems. If a couple can’t discuss money, which will affect their lives on a daily basis, they are bound to have serious issues showing up in other areas of their life together. Values, goals, priorities, philosophies, training – it’s important to understand all of these things about yourself and your intended spouse before you get married.
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