Society would have us believe that we should marry solely for love and live happily ever after. Reality shows us that almost half of all marriages eventually end in divorce and many divorces occur as a result of fighting over money and finances. So, part of being content with a partner is not just whether you initially fell in love with them, but also what kind of choices they make and whether they are making you better off as a couple or setting you back. If you’re getting serious about settling down, here are some things to think about:
- Everyone’s Different – First of all, don’t be overly judgmental and eliminate someone from your life because they’re not good with money initially. Do they recognize there’s room for improvement? Are they trying? Are they on the same page as you? These are things to consider, especially if you’re both young and perhaps they didn’t have the best financial role models growing up.
- Financially Burdened for Life – After considering habits and attitudes about money, if you’re getting serious about your relationship, you need to have an honest and thorough discussion with your potential partner about what kind of financial liabilities they have. In the United States, student loan debt is generally not dischargeable and prior bankruptcies and credit problems can stay with someone for many years. If you marry into that situation, you need to be fully prepared to now own half of that liability or risk. People do it all the time and they often live happily ever after. But it would be unfair or upsetting to realize this later into the relationship when it’s too late to adjust. If your partner is unwilling to have a discussion of that nature then perhaps they aren’t serious about settling down. You need to look out for your own interests as well as trying to make them happy.
- Do You Both Want the Same Things? – If you’re the type that wants to put extra money away each year and retire early while your partner is living like there’s no tomorrow, they could prevent you from achieving your goal if you don’t get them on the same page. On the other hand, maybe you enjoy living a little, vacationing, dining out and spending some money while saving, but they’re overly frugal. Before realizing too late that you’re not financially compatible and don’t have the same goals later in life, it’s worth having serious discussions about what you both want for your future.
These types of discussions shouldn’t stop on the wedding day. My wife and I routinely discuss topics ranging from our goal of putting money away for our children, to what we would do if one of our parents ran out of money and needed assistance with housing. Even though events like this may be unlikely or far off, they’re important discussions to have and reach agreement on before they happen!