If these couples knew that many of the fights they were going to have throughout their marriage would be rooted in money and their financial choices, they all might take time to discuss and foster financial compatibility right now.
Since spouses are going to share money choices and the consequences of their actions, it’s important to be on the same page. I’ve been fortunate to be in a lovely marriage for over two decades, but money has been at the core of many of our biggest disagreements.
We aren’t alone. Our firm has worked with thousands of families to help them with their financial lives. One lesson we’ve learned is that the way a couple makes financial choices tells whether their marriage will thrive or not.
Good news: It’s never too late to have an honest conversation about money.
There are three things you should absolutely discuss before you are married. (It won’t hurt to chat about them after the wedding, too!) But when you do, remember these important rules for talking about money. Don’t judge your partner. Don’t state your opinion as if it’s a fact. Try to see the other person’s perspective. And, most important, keep your emotions in check.
1. How do you like to spend money? There is no right or wrong. It’s simply about preferences. But we can all have differing perspectives that can become frustrating over a lifetime together. Early in our marriage, my wife organized a ski trip for us for my birthday. I thought it was an odd present, given that she had given me something that was for both of us. I had grown up thinking a present was a material thing that was given to you. You can imagine she was put off by my tepid response! Some of us like and get more enjoyment buying material things — clothes, maybe, jewelry, or some new technology. Some prefer to spend on experiences, such as dinners or travel. The way you like to spend money will be a huge part of your joint life together.
Like most people, my tastes have changed over time. Today, I’d rather spend on experiences than things. In your marriage, you will both evolve and adapt, but having a healthy way to talk about your preferences will make your life easier (and make you feel more appreciated).