Financial conflict is the number one cause for divorce in the United States. One of the greatest tests that any couple will face is how they deal with their financial problems. Since prevention is always better than cure, here are some ways to avoid financial problems in your marriage:
1. Discuss financial expectations
A marriage is built on expectations, and too often couples make assumptions about each others’ expectations to the detriment of their marriage. It is important that as a couple you sit down and discuss the financial expectations in the marriage. Talk about what money should be spent on, what should be shared expenses, which of you will be responsible for paying the bills, etc. When a couple understands their expectations, financial problems can be reduced or avoided.
2. Plan for your financial future
A marriage is the unity of two people who promise to live and journey in life forever. Forever may include children, a house, cars and educational advancement. Forever may also include unemployment, death, illness and natural disaster. It is important that the married couple has a financial plan for the negative possibilities as well as the joyous ones. Planning will reduce the stress of unforeseen expenses and eliminate the ignorance of the cost of these life events.
3. Make a budget
Making a budget should be the golden financial rule for all, but sadly that is not always the case. Making a budget in a marriage incorporates the couples’ financial expectations and financial future, while providing a guide for the couple as financial needs shift over time. Budgeting builds financial discipline, and financial discipline eliminates financial problems. So make a monthly budget incorporating all sources of income, itemizing all expenses and making appropriate allocations for savings.
4. Face financial issues when they come up
Even when you set expectations, plan and budget, financial problems can still arise. One partner may have overspent in one particular month or there is a reduction in the income of another. If financial issues are not discussed, it is a recipe for disaster. Hiding any financial issue whether from the past, current or of the future is not healthy for the marriage. Through communication, the couple can grow stronger and prevent ongoing financial instability.
5. Remember your marriage vows
On your wedding day, you made a vow for better or for worse, and this vow should be central to all financial discussions. It is not a license to be financially irresponsible, but it is the gentle reminder that your love will get you past any financial problem. A lot of times the financial problems that come up are unforeseen, such as a loss of a job, a death in the family or emergency health care. Your vows, held dearly, will equip you with all that you need to overcome financial uncertainty.
We all wish that marriages would just work and that our love is sufficient, but the reality is that each partner must invest time, energy and communication to keep a marriage healthy.