Marriage…what a simple yet complicated thing, right? What can seem extremely easy—loving someone—can also be extremely difficult, when you drill it down. When you love someone, you are no longer thinking about just yourself, or someone else, you're thinking about each other, as a unit, and I'm not even talking about the other variables; children, pets, etc. What I'm really trying to drive home is that marriage is a very complicated thing and there are many fine pieces to the puzzle to complete, and one of the more difficult pieces that I'd like to discuss is finances.
Money/finances can really draw a heavy line between relationships and it's important to be prepared to discuss finances with your significant other. I can't imagine how things must have been 50 years ago without the internet, for example, as a way to educate yourself in properly dealing with marriage and the financial element, but then again, 50 years ago things weren't quite as expensive and life was a bit simpler.
Before Janet and I tied the knot, I wanted to be prepared for what could happen, and what we would eventually be talking about: money. More and more people resort to divorce and I didn't want us to be another statistic, I mean how could I do that with the love of my life? First things first, I did my research online and found a lot of helpful financial resources dedicated to dealing with marriage and money. I was able to piece things together and get a better understanding of how to go about the talk of finances in terms of a marriage.
First thing was first, I sat down with Janet over a quiet dinner and asked her if she was comfortable with us talking openly about our finances because soon, we were going to be a unit and I knew it was important for us to have an open dialogue about them before we tied the knot. Being the rock star that she is, she was more than cool with it. We discussed how we valued money, what our current debt to income ratio was like, what bills we had, how we were conducting our savings for retirement, disposable income, etc. We reached an understanding, where we might be disagreeing to a point, but we had reached a middle ground so we weren’t upset with each other. It was very nice, we both agreed that in the end we need to be honest and not hold back or hide any type of financial issue or burden, because eventually they would come to light and together, there wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.
We evaluated what kind of debt each of us was in; I wasn’t in too bad of shape, but Janet was, so we looked at what she owed and discussed ways that we could get her out of debt sooner rather than later. Being that she was taking my hand in marriage, I would be in a sense taking her debt as well so I wanted to make sure we would be well taken care of and not stressed in the years to come.
Luckily our parents weren’t in any sort of health danger and were still fairly young so we didn’t need to worry about any potential what if’s in the near future. It was also pretty good to know that she and I both felt the same about budgeting; we would give ourselves a weekly budget, and strive to not go over it, as well as put away money into our savings account each month. There was no sense in going crazy and throwing money around when we had to take care of each other. Lastly, we both agreed that we wanted to start a family. We knew/know that raising a family isn’t always the most cost-effective thing but let’s be honest, families rock so that was a no-brainer. Financially speaking, the idea of raising a family is a topic that we talk about weekly if not daily, so this is a constant in our relationship.
After that first night of discussing finances, we made it a point that we would discuss things weekly, each week a different topic or the same topic being revisited so that we could have all of our bases covered before we got married. Some nights we would disagree, and other nights we’d agree, we just knew that in the end, we wanted to be on the same page at some point or level.
The next big topic was the actual wedding, and that is a post for another day, because Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was our wedding. Hopefully, me sharing some of my own personal financial experience with marriage will help you, and if you have any advice or tips, please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.