It’s human nature in courtship to be the best we can be in attracting the right partner, short term, long term. We can be absolutely smitten with one another based on a lot of characteristics and that’s natural. If the relationship progresses, then we are faced with more complicated considerations: Living arrangements, in-laws, blended family, friends and the age-old controversy on whether the toilet paper should hang over or under!
The number one argument in relationships doesn’t include the aforementioned. The fact is money matters is at the top of the list and most common topic of relationship disagreement. There are two types of marital relationships according to famed psychologist and author John Gottman, Masters and Disasters. The Master’s don’t knit pick on one another and strive for win-win outcomes in disagreements. The later tend to criticize their partner and gaslight to the point of irreconcilable differences. Yes, money can be the root of contention, and the tipping point to marital discord.
Holiday season can bring out the good and bad in all of us. We especially strive for good will this time of year but when the credit card bills clog your mailbox in January, good will can morph into a good fight! The Masters have all of this pretty well thought out and aren’t blindsided. The Disasters will point blame and all of the joy from holiday spending spree becomes a big bone of contention.
To avoid the strife, getting on the same page from the onset of marital union is a must! Yes, it is an uncomfortable topic but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you’ve ever sought out pre-marriage counseling, the facilitator should have brought up the topic of creating financial peace. He or she has seen their fair share of couples throwing verbal haymakers at one another over money matters, after all it is THE number one cause of trouble in most marital relationships. The Masters have a plan, the Disasters often don’t have a plan.
The good news regardless whether you’re embarking on a new marriage or you’ve been married for years, there is a simple strategy you can implement now that will pay big dividends not only in your financial present and future but the serenity of making sound decisions making your relationship astoundingly rewarding!
Step by step: Your toolbox is getting ready to get filled with 5 nuggets of information that will help you be a Master, regardless of how new your relationship is or how seasoned you are in married life. If you’re an experienced spouse but stressed-out over financial woes, put the past behind you and soar like an eagle moving forward. Both of you and your family deserve success!
1. Debts and expenses
When combining finances, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of your financial obligations. Each person should approach this openly and honestly. Remember you’re not responsible for your significant others debt, but you can create a real plan of action when everything is out in the open. Even Masters sometimes have child or spousal support obligations from previous relationship that can often ruffle the feathers in a new relationship. Frank and honest conversions avert feathers being ruffled. Communication, communication, communication!
2. Savings goals
Are you saving money? What financial goals are you saving for? What is your attitude toward saving? Do you automate your savings or do you prefer to transfer money yourself? These are all important when talking about savings. Discuss your goals and priorities. If your goals change as an individual, don’t be afraid to broach this with your significant other. Masters tend to be open, honest and seek a mutually beneficial outcome.
Get a good understanding of your partners credit history and attitude toward credit. This affects a multitude of decisions whether buying a house, starting a family, or new car purchase. It’s not unusual for one partner to have a lower credit rating than the other. Devise a strategy to improve the score that can often be improved by your own doing. Be wary of companies that promise to improve your credit overnight. Even Masters make credit mistakes which take a while to correct and we’ve all made those mistakes.
4. Views on shared spending and budgeting
Will you have a joint account, or will you maintain separate accounts? Will one person handle the bills, or will you work as a team? It isn’t uncommon for one person to handle this as it may be their strength in the relationship. Will you have a monthly shared budget? Is there a limit on what one spouse or partner can spend before consulting with the other? This will help you both have a clear understanding of each other's role in the relationship. Disasters tend to hide financial indiscretions only to have it blow up in their face and create mistrust in the relationship.
5. Retirement planning
If you plan on spending the rest of your life with your partner or spouse, you will not want to leave this topic out of the discussion. Regardless if you’re 25 or 45 its paramount to be in sync with your goals and dreams. Many young couples don’t address this as it seems far down the road. Time passes by sooner than you think and if you’re not aligned from the get go, there could a stumbling block that causes unnecessary blips on the screen. Seeking the help of an experienced financial advisor, a fiduciary can help you navigate uncharted waters. It’s never too late to seek council on tying ends together on saving, investing and minimizing tax liability. Sure, we’d all like to be rich someday but the secret to the sauce is slow and steady. Masters seem to work in unison to one day be comfortable in a later season. You’ve both worked too hard in your roles not to be secure!