Money has been pin-pointed to be the No. 1 cause for many couples getting a divorce. Money’s notorious reputation should be a signal to other couples hoping to tie the knot in the not so distant future to pay more attention on this issue. Being deeply in love should not cloud a person’s eyes to another person’s flaws.
It is wrong to adopt an ‘I don’t care’ or ‘life will eventually take care of itself’ attitude. While ignorance is bliss especially where money problems are concern, it may become a couple’s nightmare later on. Therefore, a couple should tackle the following issues before tying the knot with each other.
• What debts or loans does each person have?
• What assets does each person have?
• Will both contribute equally to the union i.e. all expenses are shared equally? Or the highest earner is expected to contribute more?
• What about spending habits? Is one person more of a spendthrift compared to the other?
• Who will be in-charge of paying off the monthly bills after marriage?
• Will there be joint accounts after marriage or maintain separate accounts?
• What are the plans for the future? For example, after marriage will there be a need to rent a place to live, buy a home or staying with the in-laws?
• Do both hold the same views or values about money?
• What about personal spending money? Does each person get equal personal spending money?
Today, men and women hold equal responsibilities when it comes to money. Gone are the days where women stay home while the men go out to work. Whether out of choice or necessity, women also seek employment and consequently have to deal with financial issues such as paying taxes, saving for retirement, claiming maternity benefits, investing for the future, etc.
In a marriage, a couple enters into a partnership, sharing a life together. Any good or bad consequences that come out of the union will affect both partners. Good money management will benefit the couple while bad money management will cause a rife between the couple. Couples who want to avoid cataclysmic money arguments after marriage should hash out and settle all money issues before getting married.
At the end of the day, each person will have a clear picture of the actual money situation and what to expect later on. The couple can then decide on the following
• How to improve their financial situation
• What changes to initiate
• Which areas need compromises
• Each person’s ideal money situation
• What sacrifices have to be made
Before we got married, my husband and I did cover some money issues to find out where we both stand financially. We discussed about the up-coming wedding, our personal debts, money or assets we each have, our financial goals, our personal values about money, etc.
Did this help to prevent money arguments after we got married? Not exactly. We still have arguments about money but it seldom happens and the arguments are more constructive rather than destructive in nature. We both know what to expect from each other which prevents any shocking or unpleasant surprises. Most of the time, discussions about money are amicable as we have similar goals and values about money.
What about you? Is money a prickly issue in your marriage?
Jacquelyn is the co-author of the books “Teaching Your Kids About Money” and “Top 93 Personal Finance FAQs in Malaysia” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.