Marriage is a big commitment, legally and socially. Though it may seem uncomfortable to broach some of these topics with your intended spouse, ensuring that you are both on the same page can save you a lot of emotional stress and frustration in the future.
1. Partner Roles
Though it is a legal commitment, marriage as an emotional reality could mean something very different to you both. You should ask what, exactly, marriage means, including a discussion of what kind of examples of marriage they have had in their life. It is important to determine both of your feelings on key financial issues such as who the main bread-winner will be and if one of you will stay in the home once children are born. Will you have a joint checking account, or will you keep individual accounts? Who will be responsible for actually paying the bills? These kind of issues may not seem important in the excitement of new love, but they can cause you and your spouse a lot of future trouble and heartache if you don’t discuss them up front.
2. Financial Priorities
The popular saying about married couples claims that most problems are caused by money or sex. The key thing to do is set expectations from the start, and remain in open communication along the way. You and your partner should establish from the beginning what sorts of financial goals you will have as a couple. Do you want to own a home? Do you want to spend all of your spare money traveling? Do you plan on having children? The answers to these kinds of questions will help you determine how to behave when you suddenly have someone else to be financially accountable to.
Past Financial History
Sharing a life means sharing your financial life. Though few things are less romantic than discussing money, you should disclose to your partner your financial history and situation, and visa versa. If one of you has gone through a past bankruptcy or is carrying thousands of dollars of student or credit card dept, it will become both of your problem once you say “I do.” Past poor credit decisions can potentially stop you from achieving some of the goals you have as a couple. Money represents shared goals, and making an effort to clean up your credit is the kind of positive step you can build your relationship around.
These are the kinds of problems that may be difficult to foresee now, but could become major issues in the future if they aren’t discussed in the beginning of the relationship.
Kari Luckett and Jayla Barnsen write about financial topics for CompareWallet.com. Kari is the content strategist for CompareCard.com.