You may not want to hear this as you get ready for your wedding, but money is the #1 reason that marriages end.
How can you make sure that money doesn’t get in the way, so you can have a long, thriving, healthy marriage? The good news is that fighting over money is absolutely preventable with the right steps.
First, let’s talk about the 3 main reasons that lead to the arguments.
DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES & VALUES
Imagine we’re in a room with 1,000 other engaged couples.
I ask, “Raise your hand if you are marrying your exact carbon copy? You see eye-to-eye on everything.”
Probably only a handful out of 1,000 would raise their hands.
Then I asked, “How many of you have different personalities, experiences and values?”
Just about the entire room would raise their hands.
You’re a Budget Savvy Bride (BSB), and chances are that you’re marrying someone who doesn’t quite view the world the way you do.
You might like structure and process but found a spontaneous spouse, because you enjoy their free spirit and adventurous mindset. They would benefit from marrying you because you can keep them grounded and put together.
Differences make relationships exciting! Complementary traits make us a balanced couple, able to tackle the obstacles that lie ahead and accomplish many things in life..
But they can also lead to conflict, because these personality traits manifest in how we handle and view money.
“Ready for the spreadsheet and budget discussion?” you say with unabashed excitement.
“Uh, ok,” they tepidly respond (maybe with an eye roll too).
Or imagine that you are marrying a compulsive spender who just bought the latest gadget without telling you first. KABOOM! The fight begins.
CONTROL & INVOLVEMENT
Control over money can lead to some serious arguments.
You might be the financially knowledgeable one, and sometimes it’s hard to give up some decision-making. The problem is that this can create resentment from your spouse just like a controlling parent often sees their kids rebel.
How about if you want your spouse to be involved in the finances because it is important, but they shut down every time money comes up. That could make you feel abandoned, lonely, and short-fused.
MAJOR LIFE EVENTS & CHANGES
Perfect example here:
Imagine you’re planning for your wedding (wink, wink). You dive into deep planning mode, pull up your spreadsheet, create your budget, research inexpensive alternatives, and start getting things done.
But your spouse-to-be treats it like it’s no big deal and that it will all work out in the end.
These two philosophies really clash and lead to big time arguments especially if you’re in the, “We’re spending too much money on our wedding and I’m doing everything I can to make cuts,” mindset.
The most benign comment about going out to a nice dinner can trigger a massive amount of stress for you. They wonder why you’re “so uptight” about this, and you don’t understand how they don’t get it. Enter the argument.
So how do we navigate these 3 traps for arguments? Here are 3 tips:
1. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY
People don’t actually fight over money. They fight over what money means to them or what they can get with it.
Think about it. Every decision you make has some sort of financial consequence.
But we don’t argue about the decision, we argue about the money.
Before thinking your spouse is too cheap or conversely too impulsive, seek first to understand their point of view by asking a follow up question.
If your future spouse is a saver, ask them why it’s important to them to have cash on hand.
If your future spouse is a spender, ask them about the experience or feeling of making that purchase.
Then, the most important part, just listen then ask a follow up question.
Remember, you two are different. Aim to learn something new about them before jumping to conclusions.
Have a conversation, not a conflict.
2. FIND A CONSENSUS
If you two are discussing the honeymoon, assign each other responsibilities that cater to your strengths.
For example, if you’re the budgeter, and your spouse-to-be is the adventurous one, let them do the most of the planning (within your budgeted amount of course J).
The second part is to be sure your fears are as it relates to money are disclosed and addressed with the decision.
Some have the fear of running out of dough, while others experience FOMO.
3. COMMIT TO WORKING TOGETHER
Just like everything in your relationship, it’s a team approach. One person can’t do it alone nor should they.
Whether your spouse is highly engaged in the finances or avoiding it like the plague, they need to have some level of involvement and responsibility. It’s just too darn important.
Marriages that have staying power are ones that actively work and grow together.
Remember that you are marrying someone who sees the world (and money) differently than you do. You absolutely will not see eye to eye on everything. Besides, what fun would that be to be with someone exactly like you?
A strong relationship is centered around understanding and respecting those differences. Have a discussion about them, find out each other’s fears, assess each other’s strengths and use them to your advantage to live a long, prosperous, and enjoyable marriage.
Rob Bertman gives couples unbiased financial guidance through life's biggest milestones. His main focus is on pre-marital financial counseling and helps couples set up solid financial habits, orchestrates the combining of finances, and facilitates a discussion around each other's money values and strengths so they can figure out their priorities as a couple, divvy up responsibilities and prevent future arguments. Visit his website: MoneyWithImpact.com