There’s no magic formula for a successful marriage, but there
are steps any couple can take to increase their chances of a long and happy life together. And that starts with getting their finances in order.
But before even a single number is discussed, the most important financial decision couples can make to set themselves up for a successful marriage is to be open and honest about their spending habits and financial pasts.
When it comes to synthesizing money and marriage, it doesn’t matter so much what couples do with their cash, but that they make decisions together and respect each other’s opinions.
“Be open and be honest,” Katie Burke, a CFP at Wealth by Empowerment, told Business Insider. “I think that having a disagreement — agreeing to disagree — is not a bad thing. Be patient and just hear someone out.”
Pam Horack, CFP and ‘Your Financial Mum’ at Pathfinder Planning LLC, concurs. “It’s knowing what the other person is spending on or saying, ‘Hey, this other person has $200 a month that I don’t know what they’re spending on, and that’s ok.’ It’s being ok and trusting that other person that they can spend their money on whatever,” she told Business Insider.
Openness goes deeper than just keeping your spouse up to date on your latest purchases. It also means coming clean about your mistakes and not judging what your partner chooses to do with their discretionary income.
“If you truly think your partner has a spending problem, then it’s time to have an honest and loving conversation with them,” Pamela Capalad, CFP and founder of Brunch and Budget, told Business Insider. “If you’re just annoyed that they spent money on something that you would never spend money on, then take a step back, take a breath, and give your partner the benefit of the doubt.”
Successful couples not only discuss the future with open minds, but they reveal their full financial pasts to their partners — even when it’s painful. That means revealing every ugly detail about their salaries, credit card debt, student loans, credit score, and anything else that might impact their financial future.
“There is a lot of embarrassment and shame when it comes to sharing your money situation,” Capalad says. “It can represent mistakes you’ve made in the past, decisions you regret, and take a big toll on your self worth. These are all feeling you should be able to share with your spouse and work through together.”
No matter if couples choose to save, invest, or spend their hard-earned cash, clear communication is a crucial component in making money and marriage work.
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