Why are some women more comfortable discussing love, intimacy, diets and stomach bloating but not finances with their spouses? I admit to being one of those women for many years. I think much of it was due to my upbringing where discussing money was not appropriate; neither were religion or politics. Both of my parents worked full time earning decent incomes, but their approach to spending and saving money was not in sync, and I remember as a child listening to their fights over money. Perhaps that's why I clammed up over money talk with my intended husband.
I am not a financial or legal expert. I am a businesswoman and wife who has learned the price of not being open about having a frank conversation about finances when you enter a marriage. Fortunately my marriage is still strong, but my lessons are ones that I am willing to share. I call them, "before you say 'I do'...don't be fearful about discussing finances."
1. Don't use pillow talk time to discuss money talk. Take the talk about money away from the bedroom or meal time. Relegate it to a specific room in the house where you can talk quietly without distraction.
2. Don't spring a conversation about money on your spouse. Set aside a time and prepare a list of what you want to discuss.
3. Don't be hasty to put a ring on your finger if his credit score will ding yours. Know each other's credit ratings. It impacts your ability to obtain credit including a mortgage.
4. Don't be blindsided by his past. Know going in if he has had a history of arrests, DUIs or other legal dealings. My protective father ran a background check on my intended.
5. Don't have a blind eye to his paperwork. If you see unopened bills strewn around his desk offer to help to get his files in order and address your concerns immediately if you suspect he is neglecting to pay his bills. You do not want his creditors calling at all hours and coming after you.
6. Don't go into the marriage deep in debt. It may be better to wait until you are both financially stable. Love should not have a deadline attached to it.
7. Don't go into debt paying for your wedding and honeymoon. The magic of the wedding day dims when you are still paying off the debt -- with interest -- years later.
8. Don't feel pressured to sign any legal documents or paperwork without taking the time to review them thoroughly to understand your obligation. If you do not understand what you are signing, ask your legal or financial adviser to review and explain any questions you have.
9. Don't spring a prenuptial agreement on your intended spouse a few days before the wedding. Discuss and plan a prenuptial agreement in advance with each of you hiring separate lawyers to advise you.
10. Don't delay writing wills or reviewing and planning for insurance coverage when starting out in a marriage. You need to know how finances will be managed while you are both alive and healthy and also if one of you becomes disabled or dies.
Marriage is a union that requires fluency in both the language of love and finances. This means being open with each other about what you earn, how you spend and save, financial planning for the future and financial protection should one of you become ill or should the marriage dissolve. You may have different attitudes about saving and spending but you must meet at a common ground that has a strong foundation to build upon. You want marriage ties that bind not strangle.