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In the list of Top 10 reasons for a marriage to end in divorce in the UK, money problems come in third. As observed by lawyers specialising in divorce law, money problems put a major strain on couples; so much so that in 2010 (the aftermath of the financial crisis) many decided to call it quits. It is difficult to keep the flame burning when bills continue to pile up, so if money’s too tight to mention, be aware of its potential to risk the stability or your relationship and take the necessary steps to ensure you and your better half are financially and personally stable.
If you are newly married and you frequently argue about money with your partner, consider this a warning sign. Researchers have found that in the ‘honeymoon’ stage of relationships, “Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce. It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women.” When you argue with your partner frequently, it is difficult to feel responsive and loving towards them. Worst of all, when you are stressed, it can be hard to find the mental clarity you need to sit with your partner, analyze your finances, and make a few necessary changes. Sound financial planning is key for couples at all stages of their lives but especially when economic times are tough. By working on resolving your difference and reducing tension at home, you can work on a long-term strategy together.
Research indicates that equality seems to promote stability – especially when it comes to finances. Couples who feel that they are part of a team in which everyone contributes money towards bills can feel that they are being treated more fairly, than those who feel overburdened by having to assume all expenses. The truth is that although modern couples don’t necessarily aim to be millionaires, they do perceive that living on a very small income can be highly stressful. This is especially true when they are struggling to pay the bills or do not have a savings account they can turn to on a rainy day. Sometimes, households simply cannot meet all their expenses unless both partners contribute.
Money can’t buy you love
While it is true that financial stress can hamper a couple’s happiness, wealth is not everything, which is something couples should keep in mind in hard times. Research shows that overly materialistic couples fare worse than more spiritually inclined couples when it comes to communication, conflict resolution, and responsiveness. Interestingly, researchers have noted that the way a couple perceives their finances is more important than the actual money they have. By keeping your focus on the value of your relationship rather than the wealth you are building up, keeping that loving feeling alive becomes easier. Sharing tasks is also important. Couples as a whole seek some sort of equity, so that if one spouse works from home while the other works in an office, home tasks such as cleaning and cooking should be fairly divided.
How can you talk about money without causing couple strife?
If money objectively does have the capacity to destroy marriages, what steps can you take to ensure this doesn’t happen to you? You essentially have three choices when times are tough financially: you can take steps to improve your situation, avoid facing the facts, or adapt to a tighter budget. The first strategy – informing yourself, making changes to your budget, and creating a strategy for the months ahead – is the most proactive and arguably the most useful in the long run. Creating a Plan B for your future will help you feel that financial worries are all temporary and surmountable.
What stops couples from moving forward during financial crises
Some of the biggest problems standing in the way of couples include lack of (or too much) information, poor communication between partners, and poor time management or lack of time to do the research. Try to work as a team, dividing tasks if need be until you talk to the right people or find interesting information online. If you have kids, try to teach them the basics of financial literacy early. As soon as they are able to, they should learn about concepts such as loans, interests, credit etc. so that as they enter into adulthood, they refrain from buying things that are simply above their means, or borrowing more than they can reasonably pay. Scientists note that today’s young couples want a big wedding, a home, cars etc. but it is sometimes important to take things in small steps, opting to spend less so as to enjoy financial stability later in their lives.
Having a talk once a year
Get together at least once a year with your partner to have a ‘reality check’. Talk about old and new financial goals – including saving for a family holiday, paying off credit, or taking out a private pension. During this talk, you can agree to discuss (non-defensively) any concerns you may be having. For instance, rising interest rates might mean one of you is paying off a higher amount on a loan, and this needs to be factored into your respective contributions if you have different accounts. This is also a good time to bring up hopes and dreams. Is there an experience or item that would make your life a lot more meaningful? Is there a caprice you would love to treat yourself to? You might be surprised to learn that your partner also sees value in what you do. It is important to support each other as much as possible, so long as any expense incurred is not unrealistic or above your means. Of course, in addition to this ‘big talk’, smaller discussions should take place throughout the year.
‘Give and take’ is key when it comes to staying together ‘through the good and bad’. Partners can agree to see their financial success as a team goal; one that both partners do their share to fulfil either in a paid or unpaid fashion. By being aware that financial instability is a stressor, and committing to tackling it proactively, couples can ensure that strife is temporary, and that stress does not take away the most important thing they have: each other.
Money talk is probably the last thing on your mind right after you get back from your honeymoon.
You might be thinking – you just got back from a romantic getaway with your spouse after your successful wedding that’s thoughtfully planned and splurged on. You’re not even done unboxing all of your wedding gifts. And now you’re going to talk about financial paperwork?
Well, sorry to say, but it’s got to be done. After all, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. Financial issues, no matter how daunting, should be discussed before they become bigger and more damaging in the relationship.
A blissful marriage isn’t measured on the number of date nights, romantic vacations, and lavish anniversary gifts. Couples who face financial hurdles together and overcome them together come out stronger than ever.
So if you’re ready to do some daunting financial tasks after the wedding, here are top 6 things you should do as a couple.
Have you decided to have a joint banking account and merge all of your finances for household spending? Or you want to keep your personal account? Or perhaps do both by having a shared account and a separate account for personal spending at the same time?
Whatever that is, make sure you’re both on the same track about this matter and do all the paperwork together.
Once you’re married, you should have each other’s names on all of your accounts. It’s also important to change your beneficiary information for those accounts: If it’s your first marriage your beneficiaries are likely your parents. If you’ve been married before, it’d be your ex.
Make sure to update it ASAP to avoid bigger and more expensive problems should anything bad happen to you.
“Til death do us part” or “Til debt do us part”?
Debt should be openly discussed and addressed as early as possible to avoid it to cause further damage to the relationship.
Get out the paperwork, provide copies of your own credit reports, look for the real bottom line, and deal with it. Debt catches up eventually – whether it’s the tax collector, your university, or creditor. One day, the terrifying details of the past will come creeping out when you’re trying to get a mortgage and other loans.
Not all money talk is bad. Some prudent men and women enter marriage with trust funds, investment accounts, real estate properties, and other significant assets. Your spouse should know what you have and what you can share unless you have a prenuptial agreement that excludes the spouse from any benefit. Again, beneficiary names should be updated.
Now that you’re married, looking at your paychecks and other income sources is just a right thing to do. You’re a team here, remember?
It’s crucial to determine your combined monthly income and how it’ll affect your spending and savings.
Make a detailed budget out of the combined list of all your monthly expenses: housing, utilities, internet, cable, phone, groceries, car payments, leisure, and other routine costs. Plan for payments on debts too. Last but not least, make sure to have a budget for unexpected expenses that may come up, like home repair and medical bills.
Odds are that, you’ve splurged on your wedding and your honeymoon. YYour first year together is the perfect time to recoup those losses and continue saving up for the future.
Don’t forget to feed your savings account – together. We can all agree that having a financial cushion for emergencies and retirement is a must.
You can fuel your savings by finding ways to be frugal. You may limit nights out and put your focus on groceries and rent. Be wise when going on vacations. Set limits for internet, cable, and electricity use. It’s more fun to celebrate your first year of marriage without overindulging.
Communication is key to a successful marriage, especially in terms of money. Couples who discuss money matters, set financial goals and help each other achieve them tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t.
Take the time to sit down with your spouse to talk about money – your short-term and long-term goals and your plans to make these goals a reality. Discuss where you want to be in five years. Are you planning to build a business? Will you buy stocks or other investment vehicles? Will one or both of you work abroad? Do you have a plan to level up on your career?
Talk about money handling practices and expectations. Are you guilty of poor spending habits? Do you plan to quit certain expensive vices? How often do you plan to go on vacations?
Talk about future expenses that will eventually arrive, including children’s education, buying your first home, your first car, and the emergency and retirement funds.
I know these things may be too much to talk about, especially if you’re just starting your life together. However, it’s great to be open about these things and to know that you and your partner are on the same track.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for The Relationship Room, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships