Though marriage is the oldest social institution and provides a foundation on which our civilization is built, it is a social construct that has been in a state of constant evolution. Originally, the custom of marriage was not emotionally based at all. Love had nothing to do with it, so to speak. It was a financially based political and economic institution. So why then is the conversation of finances in marriage so taboo? If marriage was always been a tradition that has been financially based, then why all the confusion on how to navigate where a couple stands financially? The answer is if we have a changing concept of marriage in the 21st century we need to accompany that with a changing concept of finances in marriage within that social convention.
The first thing to remember is that it is not a one-size fit all model. There is not one clear answer on how a couple should manage finances in marriage. Some choose to merge all of their wealth while others keep everything separate. Still, others, use a hybrid model that unifies some assets while having some things still divided.
Here are helpful strategies that will get you started on financial marital success
1. Communication – know each other’s money language
It is important to have open discussions about money and managing funds. You really need to know each other’s history concerning money and what foundational values were taught as children regarding these concepts. Maybe your partner or yourself really never learned anything about managing a budget? Maybe as a child, one parent managed all of the funds while the other played the role of a silent partner? Perhaps one of you were raised by a single parent who independently controlled the chequebook? These are all critical layers of history to review when starting to build a life together.
2. Money Map – navigate your financial ups and downs
It is important to be upfront right from the start. Not only should you have an emergency fund but clear plans on how to travel through your financial future. What sort of things are financial priorities for you as a couple? What items would you like to start saving for? At this time, do you even have enough extra funds to save, or is this a goal for the future?
3. Teamwork – work as a team
Your teammate always needs to be in the know on your major plays concerning money, so be transparent. Be honest about big spending and talk about it before you actually do it. Little everyday incidentals do not always need a conversation but be wary as they do add up too. If you have made a misstep with money, and you did not talk about it with your partner first, fess up and explain what happened to your partner. You can certainly tackle things better as a team than alone as one in isolation.
Wrapping it up
Again, it is important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules concerning managing money in marriage. Marriage itself has gone through an evolution, so it is okay that your financial journey goes through a metamorphosis from time to time as well. The key idea to keep in mind is that your monetary plans can transform and mature just as your relationship will.
On my path to becoming a therapist, I took a rather winding road. First starting as a History Graduate participating in Archaeological excavations and teaching high school history for 10 years; as I further developed in the field of education, I found that my true interest was in helping people navigate life’s obstacles to achieve developing their best self. I have worked in a variety of settings from mental health clinics, public school settings, therapeutic schools, private practice, and even people’s homes. From teacher to administrator, clinical supervisor and business owner, my experience are quite diverse and vast. I have learned that though you may start on one path and the travel may be long and difficult, your end destination may, in fact, be your destiny.
Now as a licensed mental health counselor, LMHC, I specialize in working with children and families. With over 16 years of experience of working with children of all ages, I help children and their caregivers make sense of difficult life experiences and complex psychological issues. Along with aiding families to navigate life’s obstacles, I also work with adults coping with stress, anxiety, depression, & relational and partnership issues. Overcoming life’s barriers and hurdles is paramount to one’s success and feeling of accomplishment.
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