Engaged couples have so many things to talk about while planning their weddings: seating arrangements, their honeymoon destination, future kids… and money.
Money may not be the most romantic topic on the pre-wedding agenda, but it’s probably the most important. According to a 2012 study of over 4,500 married couples, fights about money are the biggest predictor of divorce — above fights about in-laws, kids, household chores, and sex.
Clearly, couples who get on the same financial page before the wedding are in a better position to enjoy years of married bliss. If you have not yet had the following conversations with your sweetheart, make sure you do before you say “I do.”
1. Your Money Beliefs
We tend to think of money as a simple matter of mathematics, but it’s actually a very emotional topic. People develop beliefs about money (also known as money scripts) in childhood, and those beliefs can be very difficult to change. If you and your future spouse have opposing money scripts, you may find yourselves regularly arguing simply because you do not agree on the nature and purpose of money.
Before you tie the knot, take the time to talk about your earliest memories regarding money. Not only can this sort of conversation help you to better understand how you each shaped your current views of money, but it can also help to bring you closer since you will be sharing some of your childhood emotional development.
2. Your assets and liabilities
No one enjoys talking about retirement account balances, student loan debt, and credit card statements. But marrying without an understanding of where you each stand financially is a big mistake. Couples need to be completely transparent with each other about their financial situation. Finding out that your new spouse is up to his or her eyeballs in debt would be a terrible wedding night discovery.
3. How (or If) You Will Combine Your Finances
There are many different ways to merge financial lives, and it’s important to discuss how you plan to do so before the wedding. Not only may you and your sweetheart have completely different ideas of how married finances should work, but you need to hammer out the specifics that will work for you both even if you are generally on the same page.
4. Your Major Financial Goals
Though you might have a basic idea of each other’s goals — that she wants to stay home with the kids, for instance, and you hope to retire to the beach — it’s important to remember that you need to have regular conversations about your goals and how you plan to achieve them. A goal is a dream with a deadline as the saying goes, but without discussing your goals you will not be able to plan for them.
5. Who Will Handle Money Management
One person naturally emerges as the money manager in most couples, but that is not always the case. Figuring out ahead of time who will handle everything from bill payment and balancing the checkbook to shopping around and price negotiations can help you to assign those chores to the person who will be best at them or who has the time to do them. Getting on the same page with money management questions can help you avoid costly mistakes (like forgetting to pay bills) and major arguments.
The Bottom Line
Money may not seem like a particularly romantic topic of conversation, but ignoring money is not the path the wedded bliss. Make sure you and your sweetheart have these money conversations early (and often) to avoid romance-killing money conflicts.