NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Talk to Your Partner About Money Before You Get Married or Enter Into a Committed Relationship

If you're about to get married, you might be very busy now taking care of last minute preparations, rewriting your vows, and confirming the honeymoon plans. Maybe you're daydreaming about the wedding and how wonderful it will be to spend the rest of your life with your beloved. But before you say "I do," walk down the aisle hand in hand, and step into the next phase of your life together, there's something very important that you need to do--make sure you talk about money before you get married.

Talk to Your Fiance About Money Before You Get Married

I can't emphasize enough how important this is. Talking about money might not be the most romantic topic to discuss with your soon to be spouse, but in the long run, it can save both of you a lot of headaches in the future.

I realize that talking about money can be uncomfortable. However, as a marriage counselor, I can tell you that one of the biggest problems that bring couples (married or not) into marriage/couples counseling is that they're arguing about money. That doesn't mean that it's too late and they can't learn to reconcile their differences about money but, for most of them, it would have been so much easier if they had sat down and talked about money before they got married.

So what do you talk about and how do you do it?
You and your partner should sit down in a quiet place where you have privacy and share your views about money as well as any debt or other problems you're having with money.

Talk to Your Partner About Money Before You Get Married

Don't assume that you're both on the same page about money because you might be very wrong about this. You'll probably need to have more than just one talk to cover a variety of topics. Here are some tips:

What's important to you each of you?
  • Do you want children? If so, how many?
  • If you have children, will you both continue to work or will one of you stay home?
  • Do you want to buy a house in the future?
  • Do you want to relocate?
  • Do you love living in the city but your partner wants to live in the suburbs?
  • Are you a saver and your partner is a spender?
  • How will you manage your money? Separately? Together? Keep whatever you had before you got married and set up a third account for expenses?
  • What about credit cards? Joint accounts? Separate accounts?
  • What about debt that you incurred before the marriage? Will you work on paying it off together or separately?
  • How will you handle the fact that one of you earns a lot more than the other? Will you divide expenses down the middle or will each of you pay a percentage of your income? Will each of you assume different expenses?
  • What if one of you expects to get an inheritance? How do you handle that? Will that money belong to him/her or will you share it as a couple?
  • What about property that you own before the wedding?
  • Do you need a prenuptial agreement?

A word about your current debt
Don't try to hide it until after the wedding. This will only anger your partner (justifiably so) and lead to mistrust between you.

Talk to Your Fiance About Money Before You Get Married:  Talk About Debt

Don't think that you'll pay it off quietly (somehow) and he or she does not need to know about it. Be honest and open about your debt. It's all going to come out after you're married anyway, so you might as well get it out into the open now.

What if you find out that your partner has a poor credit history or that he or she has been irresponsible about debt?
Does this mean that you have to cancel the wedding and you can never be together? Well, no, not necessarily.

Talk to Your Fiance About Money Before You Get Married:  What About Poor  Credit?

It depends. Finding out that your partner was irresponsible with credit cards when he was a student and is now doing the right thing by paying them off is very different from finding out that he has a serious gambling problem and he's in denial about it.

Only you can decide what you can live with and what you can't. However, it's also important not to fool yourself into thinking that these problems will go away after you're married because, chances are, they won't.

What if your partner is too uncomfortable to talk about money?
It's understandable that you and your soon to be spouse might feel uncomfortable talking about your personal finances.

Talking about our own money in our society is still a taboo subject and it's true that many people would more readily talk about sex than reveal how much money they earn. So, a certain amount of discomfort is normal. Be patient with one another. You don't need to talk about all the topics at once. Usually, as you begin to have these discussions, it becomes a little easier.

What if your partner refuses to talk about money?
If you're patient and give your partner a chance to get comfortable but he or she adamantly refuses to talk about money or becomes verbally abusive about it, that's a big red flag and it should give you pause.

A partner who refuses to talk about money or who becomes critical of you for wanting to talk about money has issues that you should be concerned about. If it's hard now, it's going to be even harder after you get married.

There may be reasons why your partner is too uncomfortable to talk about money: Maybe it brings up old family issues. Maybe his or her family never talked about money and it was considered a taboo topic to discuss. Maybe it brings up other insecurities. It's better to find this out now. At least, whatever you decide about your future together, you'll be doing it with your eyes open.

Getting Help in Therapy
You and your partner might need professional help to sort these issues out now before they become even bigger issues after you're married. I've helped many couples to work out these issues satisfactorily so that they can go on to have good, stable marriages together.

I am a NYC psychotherapist and couples counselor. To find out more about me, you can visit my web site: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapis

Call me at (917) 742-2624 to set up a consultation or email me.

See my article:  Talk to Your Spouse About Money