Marriage and Finances

There are three major things I feel can ruin a marriage. Number one infidelity, number two lack of trust, and number three money.  

When it comes to money and how it is handled in a relationship it varies from relationship to relationship.  How relationships evolve into a pattern of money spending and investing depends solely on the couple and how they manage their lives together.

My husband and I have been together since we were teenagers and had no clue as to how to manage money.  We have grown together as a couple which means we choose to combine everything to create a balanced household.  With so many expenses, kids in college, and the support we have for each other’s goals it just seems smarter.  We are in a trusting marriage that we see longevity in and we both equally contribute so to manage our finances together never seemed like a big deal (I honestly thought everyone did it that way) until I heard others speak about their relationship or heartbreaking separations.

There are relationships that have joint accounts but also a personal account of their own. This gives them a cushion for the unexpected or it allows them to save toward something that is important to them but not necessarily important to their partner.  Some couples volunteer this information others may choose to keep it a secret so that it doesn’t get confused with having extra money for something not related to having the emergency fund in the first place. The biggest reason is not knowing what tomorrow will bring and if it brings separation or divorce you have money that is yours to control.

Some couples keep everything completely separate. I have my money and you have yours.  There is no joint account and if you need money from me for anything, consider it a loan that needs to be repaid.  Bills are split so the need to know what one has in their account should be of no concern to the other.

There is also the couple who has separate bank accounts but a joint household account.  Whoever pays the bills uses this account to make those payments. Personal bills like a credit card, student loan, maybe even child support is deducted from the partners own personal account. The joint account is solely for the purpose of paying household bills and repairs.

However, you choose to manage your finances as a married couple it needs to be addressed before you say I do.

Part of having a long-lasting happy relationship is, unfortunately, money and how you manage it. Finances and the impact it has on relationships is not just a poor or middle-class problem it can be a problem for all class levels. How you manage money as an individual can say a lot about your character, and if you are one who do not pay bills and spend money on frivolous things you may be seen as irresponsible and a person who is not trying to build a strong foundation for your family but a selfish need for self.  That may be a little harsh, but you get the point.  

Imagine if both partners were irresponsible with money, how long do you think it will take before you are homeless or living with someone.  It ruins the relationship because now you are fighting about who’s the more irresponsible person and how the relationship is now just about figuring out how to get back on our feet, but not without the blame game as the main attraction.

Now if one person is responsible and the other is not this is something that should be addressed early on in the relationship so you can develop a system that you both can live with, without your household failing and you going broke. This scenario could also cause trouble in paradise because if you have to be the responsible one all the time and the other partner can continue to spend irresponsibly that gets exhausting and resentment starts to seep in.

Marriage and finances are important topics to discuss before marriage or worth revisiting if you are already married.  Here are some tips for eliminating finances as a marriage destroyer.

  1. Decide on a joint account or private accounts.  If you decide to have private accounts also include the joint account for equally shared expenses.
  2. Have separate accounts but delegate who is responsible for what.
  3. Allow one person to budget the household.  This person will keep track of what money comes in and how much goes out.
  4. Talk about money, bills, expenses, and personal wants.  Create a plan together that works for you all and revisit it from time to time to make adjustments.
  5. If you decide to have a joint account be respectful and communicate to your partner when money is used for unplanned wants.
  6. Don’t wait to talk about how your partner spends until you are in debt, address it head on and make adjustments.

These tips are not intended to make you feel like a child, but if you want to have a long lasting relationship you cannot be afraid to talk about money and how it will work in your marriage.

After all that I just realized this addresses dual-income households.  Single income households are different and will require a different post, so stay tuned.

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