Money And Marriage: Financial Questions Engaged Couples Need To Contemplate To Avoid Conflict


If you're planning to tie the knot, you might consider meeting with a counselor, especially if you come from differing financial backgrounds. You might think you've got the money under control, but studies show that 22% of divorces are caused by contention over finances. Finding a financial plan and learning how to communicate openly about finances before the wedding date can help you to get your marriage off to a great start -- and keep that momentum going as you experience the highs and lows of life. Before the wedding date, you will need to get on the same page as far as realities and expectations for finances. Sit down with your fiance and ask each other these questions:

1. What will our income be like?

This will be how you decide what you can afford. Contention-causing situations like spending too much on groceries or not agreeing on a place to live can be answered by looking at the facts. You don't necessarily have to set out a dollar-for-dollar budget when you are still engaged, but simply making each partner equally aware of what the finances will be like post-wedding will help to make financial conversations and setting the budget easier in the future. 

2. What are our individual dreams that will require money?

Accomplishments and life goals usually hang on financial success in many ways. Learn about your fiance's goals. Do they want to go to graduate school? Do you want to travel? Is it important to you to buy a house as soon as possible? Putting each individual's large-scale expectations on the table will make it easier for you to both plan for them in the future.

3. What is our debt situation?

One spouse may have plenty of student loans. Another may have a car payment. Talk about how these debts will be resolved once you are married, and be open and honest about the amount of money each owes. Debt is one the top stressors for couples in marriage. If you are unable to come up with a debt payment plan with your fiance, it's best to talk to a financial advisor for a practical plan on how you can keep stress from debt at a minimum. 

3. How much do I expect my spouse to earn in the future?

Decide what your family structure will be like. Will both spouses work full time? Will there be children? What sort of careers do each of you hope to have? Arguments about who will be the bread-winner and who will raise kids and how much a spouse earns can be solved by establishing these expectations early on. Many people move into marriage thinking they will cross bridges when they come to them. A married couple can't predict everything, but unmet expectations are often the reason behind financial disagreements. 

4. What things are important to me and important to my spouse that we include in our budget?

Another aspect of financial disagreement in marriage comes from differing opinions as to what is important to spend money on. For example, one spouse might prefer to buy only brand name cereal, while the other may enjoy a monthly subscription to a movie-streaming website. When spouses disagree about what is important in the budget, it can get personal. An argument can escalate to a "them vs. me" mentality, and feeling of unfairness or anger toward the other spouse for causing all the money problems can result. Therefore, having a conversation about working the budget around both partners' spending habits will help.

5. What will our religious contributions be like?

If you are a Christian couple, of if one spouse is religious and one is not, you will also need to resolve expenses related to worship. For example, some denominations ask for a tithing and charitable donations to help move the work forward. Decide before your marriage where you both stand on making religious contributions a part of the budget.

If possible, take time to sit down with a premarital counselor to learn strategies for effective financial communication. If you and your partner are both Christians, then you might want to consider christian premarital counseling that will be more targeted to your personal values and beliefs.


8 July 2015

Counseling is Important Even if You Are Taking Depression Medication

I suffered depression for much of my life, and I lived with it for years before seeking help. I visited a psychiatrist and received an antidepressant prescription along with a referral to a counselor. I filled my prescription, but I put off making an appointment with the counselor. The medication began to help, so I decided that I didn't need to see a counselor after all -- or so I thought at the time. After a couple of months of medication, a close friend of mine died of an illness. I then learned that even though the medication helped my depression, I still had not learned the coping skills I needed to deal with traumatic life experiences. That even motivated me to seek counseling, and it helped me immensely. I created this blog to remind others that medication can help when suffering with depression, but counseling is also extremely important.