“…For richer or poorer, to have and to hold, until death do us part…”
Do you recall making this vow? It sounds like quite a commitment. The problem is, these words represent a very unrealistic view of finances and marriage.
How can we see into the future and know that this person will be our partner for the rest of our lives, regardless of all of the other things that come up? Secrets, lies, infidelity … even money problems?
We don’t. Everybody knows that that line is painfully untrue. Even more so when it comes to marital finances, which are rarely discussed before a couple becomes engaged.
We are setting ourselves up for failure if we are not clear about who we are — including financially — when we are dating and engaged.
There is a reason happily-ever-after’s are called fairy tales; they are the invention of a rich imagination from someone defining what they think perfection is. More importantly, fairy tales include being rescued — always by a man.
To be more specific, a rich, handsome prince discovers a beautiful woman who is poor but has a heart of gold; she has to have some noble qualities to bring to the table.
Marriage offers a great sense of security and stability—if you play your cards right. Your credit card and debit card included.
Are you living in a fairy tale?
Here are four major mistakes we make when it comes to money and marriage
1. Keeping secrets about money.
This is the most dangerous mistake of all because it involves trust. Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship. Break it and the journey to reclaim it is long and tricky.
Do it twice, and you are creating the conditions for a disaster. In other words? The “steps” in your two-story home looked reliable, but the bottom one has already gave way.
2. Dancing the ‘avoidance cha-cha’.
The feelings of being in love often distract us from reality. Being in love in the early stages wraps us in the expansiveness of feeling safe. Wrong assumption! Fairy dust does not sprinkle down and solve an argument about money. If you did not have the pre-marital money discussion, you have left the back door open. How can you avoid this?
Have those difficult money talks before you get married, not after. Add to your list having an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to agree to discuss large purchases before making them each time.
3. Not taking responsibility.
Sometimes, in spite of having all good intentions, things just go awry. We did not plan it to happen; it’s just the way it unfolded.
When the people involved don’t take responsibility for their behaviors, and it spills into money, things get very messy — especially if family members are involved. If you made a mistake or your financial situation has gone all wrong, own up to it and handle it calmly with your partner.
When people come into relationships, especially when it’s a second marriage, full disclosure about debts is critical.
4. Being controlling about money — it takes two to tango.
So, you’ve been together long enough that the blush is off the rose. You have settled into a nice comfortable pattern with each other.
When one of the partners is controlling and judgmental about money, that leads to resentment. The habits the two of you have established may have been a combination of compromise, letting go, and resigning yourself; or so you would say.
But, often in relationships, we have pushed away our true feelings, which float around and come to the surface in other areas in disguise.
When you tiptoe around discussions about money, it will just make him/her defensive. But, avoiding talking about the “sticky stuff” eats away at your intimacy with each other. Sit together and make a budget that works for both of you.
Get talking. Get closer.
I originally published this on YourTango, reprinted here to share it with you!