Money and Marriage

Money touches most every aspect of life.  It’s not surprising how much it impacts marriage as well.  Unfortunately, money is a leading cause of divorce.

     “Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month,”  Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project.

I believe this doesn’t have to be the case in your marriage.  Instead, I believe you should choose to be proactive about how money is handled within the context of your marriage.  This means that you and your spouse are agreeing on your financial plan and budget together.  One spouse may be the one that prepares the budget but both of you should agree on what the final numbers and categories are in the budget.  This also means that you are making sure things are executed according to the plan.  So you aren’t agreeing just to agree, you are implementing things as a couple and taking responsibility.

I also think it’s valuable to make sure that both of you are well aware of where you stand financially.  So this means that both of you know what you own and what you owe.  There are no “secret credit cards” or “secret savings.”  Instead, there is a unity in knowing where you are headed, how you’re going to get there, and where you stand currently.

One area that I think helps in this discussion as well is that it is okay if your budget includes “slush” (aka, spending money) that is allocated however you see fit.  It could be you even have a slush amount each month for each of you and one that is joint.  That way if one spouse has differing spending habits they are able to buy what they please, when they please, so long as it fits into the monthly slush amount.  If one spouse is not a spender or prefers to buy larger cost things then they can accumulate their slush to buy something larger at a later date.  If there are a bigger ticket item (skis, bikes, etc.) then those items are in the budget and agreed upon by both spouses.

I believe in a marriage all the assets are both of yours as are all of the debts.  Ideally you know before marriage what you’re getting into in this regard.  Either way though, both spouses need to have a full view of everything owed and owned at all times.  You should work together to progress through the Financial Stages.  When you are on the same page financially, the effects will be profound and your marriage will be better as a result.

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