We all know that both the subject and the realities of finances can put a strain on any marriage, but you might be surprised to learn the magnitude of that tension. According to a survey by Experian, nearly 60% of divorcees said that finances played a role in the breakup of their marriage. Lack of communication about finances prior to marriage and financial incompatibility during marriage, were two of the leading factors. While this statistic is grim, finances do not have to be the Grim Reaper of an otherwise happy marriage.
Optimally, if marriage is in your future, you will have a good knowledge about your future spouse’s income, debt, spending habits and financial goals before the wedding bells ring and reality takes over. If, however, you are already married and find that you are having a difficult time communicating and being on the same financial page as your spouse, it is never too late to replace destructive habits with good ones so that your marriage can thrive.
Here are Five Things You can do to Keep Your Marriage and Finances Strong
1. Be Honest
There are many ways that dishonesty about your finances can destroy your marriage. A successful marriage is an honest one, and that means coming clean about your purchases and any debt you have accumulated. Don’t hide your receipts or credit card statements from your spouse, and don’t spend money you do not have. Be accountable and trustworthy in all areas in your marriage – including your finances. Having open conversations about each other’s financial goals and planning together how to make them happen will take time and effort, but it is the teamwork needed for a successful marriage. Use our calculator to determine how much you are spending by itemizing your living expenses.
2. Be an Equal Participant
If you and your spouse decide that they will be the one handling the bills, don’t use that as an excuse to disengage from the process. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to be an equal participant in your finances. Know what money you have, what you owe, and where your money is going. Being an adult comes with the responsibility to be involved in the nitty gritty and not so pleasant details of your money matters and contribute to the solution to any problems. It also means you have the obligation to your spouse to plan and work towards your goals for your future. Don’t shun your responsibility to be involved – embrace it!
3. Don’t Dominate
Even if personal finance is your strength, don’t be tempted to be the sole decision maker when it comes to money matters. Marriage is a partnership and your spouse’s participation in your family finances must be welcomed even if you think it is not needed. Their concerns and dreams must be validated and weighed equally if not more than your own. Dominating the financial decisions in your marriage will lead to a parent-child relationship and will build resentment over time. Strive for the unity needed for long-term financial and marriage success.
4. Create a Financial Plan
Creating a financial plan is the best way to get and keep you and your spouse on the same page. This plan will consist of everything from building a monthly budget, paying off debt, saving for emergencies, investing for retirement and all other decisions that involve finances. A financial plan not only includes how you will spend your money now, but where you want it to go in the future. Remember that no plan is perfect and it will need adjusting over time. However, when you work together and have open communication, your financial plan can be the catalyst needed to make your goals obtainable. You can determine how to structure your debt for the fastest payoff with this calculator.
5. Be Patient with Yourself and Each Other
Coming from different backgrounds when it comes to financial matters can make it a challenge to be patient with your spouse and as a couple as you strive to develop new money habits and work as a couple to change destructive behaviors. Learning how to manage finances in a marriage requires persistence both in communicating about your finances and working together towards your goals. Recovering from setbacks will strengthen your resolve and your marriage and make the realization of your dreams even more satisfying.
Remember that just like marriage, navigating your finances is a journey, not a destination. Learning how to communicate about money before and after marriage, being an honest and equal participant in the process and developing long term financial goals can increase your chances for a healthy and successful marriage. For more money tips for a successful marriage, be sure to browse our resources on Money Help Center.
What tips have you used to keep your marriage and your finances strong?