What should an engaged couple know about finances as they make their plans for married life? What do they need to talk about in terms of money and budgeting?
Everything! One of the greatest areas of conflict in any marriage is money. The reasons are easy to understand. When you put two people together with one checkbook who have different value systems, different personalities, different training, different goals, and different priorities, you're bound to have conflict. Determining how you are going to make financial decisions and who pays what bills, who determines the budget, etc., are essential aspects of preparing for marriage. Here are just a few topics that couples should discuss before they tie the knot:
- What are your respective beliefs about credit cards?
- Are you bringing any credit card debt into the marriage?
- How soon do you expect to buy a house?
- What do you believe about receiving financial assistance from parents and grandparents after you're married? How are you going to handle that situation if it arises?
- What are your lifestyle expectations?
- Do either of you have student loan debt?
- What are your beliefs and opinions relative to private and public schools or Christian and non-Christian schools for your children? If you agree that you want private education, how are you going to pay for it?
Obviously, this list could be expanded. That's why it can actually be a good idea for young couples to prepare a combined budget before they get married. If they're fortunate enough to know a good Christian advisor, they'd be wise to have a financial plan prepared ahead of time. Most of the financial conflict that occurs in marriage can be avoided if couples spend some time talking through these issues prior to the wedding. These questions assume an even larger significance when divorced or widowed individuals come together in a second marriage.
It's been our observation that many of the money problems that arise in marriage are actually communication problems. If a couple can't discuss money, which will affect their lives on a daily basis, they are bound to have serious issues showing up in other areas of their life together. Values, goals, priorities, philosophies, training – it's important to understand all of these things about yourself and your intended spouse before you get married. Unfortunately, many young couples never think about them until they find themselves in the midst of financial conflicts.
If you need help applying these concepts to the day-to-day realities of your particular situation, don't hesitate to give our staff a call. Focus on the Family's counselors would be happy to listen to your concerns and assist you with some practical suggestions. They can also provide you with referrals to advisors and counselors who specialize in helping couples with financial issues.
Living Within Your Means: Ron Blue offers helpful principles for prioritizing and managing household income and expenses.
Family and Personal Finances (resource list)
Money and Finances