Engaged couples are excited that they’ve found the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Weddings, honeymoons, then a life of bliss. Do you know what the number one cause of divorce is? Financial issues. Many couples end in divorce because they don’t have these important financial discussions before marriage:
Bank Accounts: Some married couples prefer to operate out of a joint account, checking and savings, and combine their paychecks so that it’s easier to keep track of. Other couples like to keep their finances separate, and keep dealing out of the individual accounts they came into the relationship with. There are also spouses who prefer a hybrid of the two, where there is a joint account to pay household bills such as the rent and utilities, and their individual checking and savings accounts for any personal purchases. This is something for you and your significant other to decide together.
Savings Goals: Maybe you want to save up to buy a house. Maybe your husband wants to go on vacations every year. Your wife might want a vacation home. These are no longer goals you decide on your own. These are things you should both talk about. Come to a decision on what you will save up for during your marriage.
Debt: Student loans, auto loans, and credit card debt are things that should be brought up before you walk down the aisle. Many couples feel betrayed when one party does not disclose their debt before they tie the knot. Some even admit they would not have gotten married if they would’ve known how far in debt their partner was in. When you get married, your spouse’s debt can become your own. Talk about how much debt you are in and come up with a plan to get out of it together.
Insurance: Don’t wait until after the wedding to discuss important things like insurance. Are you going to join his? Is she going to join yours? There’s many different insurance topics to go over, including health, home, and especially life insurance. You may need to do quite a bit of paperwork to become the beneficiary for each others’ policies. Find out from your employer what documentation you’ll need to make necessary changes.
Baby Plans: Babies are definitely a bundle of joy but there are people out there who have no plans on becoming parents. If a husband and wife are not on the same page with this topic, this can be a recipe for divorce. You’ll grow to resent the other for not agreeing with your point of view. Talk before you get married about if you want kids, and if so, how many you want and when. Kids can be expensive, and you should try to find out if you can afford them before having them. It doesn’t always work out that way but if you can, discuss it.
Career Goals: You may end up seeing your coworkers more than you see your spouse depending on your career. 40 hour work weeks are normal but 50-80 are not unheard of. You need to know if your husband or wife can handle the stress of you not being around if that’s the case. There are also instances where one person prefers to stay home, mostly to be available for the kids. This is an important conversation not only before marriage, but throughout marriage as well, especially if things change or someone’s unhappy.
Household Bills: Sure, you’re going to need electricity, water, and gas. Some households also prefer to have other luxuries like cable, housecleaning, a cook, and landscaping services. Come to this decision together, and keep your partner in the loop about the costs of these services at all times.
Living Will: Not exactly the happiest of conversation, but important nonetheless. In the unfortunate case that something happens to one of you, you should talk about getting a living will done to decide what’s to be done with your estate. Maybe you want your partner to have everything. Maybe there’s things you want to go to specific family members. Have that talk. Also, it’s good to know what your spouse wants in the event that one of you is in a vegetative state, and other health concerns that may arise.
Budget: What are you guys going to spend your money on? Bills and savings should come first, but are you allowing room for entertainment? Are you saving for retirement? Is there a college fund in your children’s future? A budget should be a compromise where both people are involved.
So before you say “I do”, make sure the love of your life sits down with you to discuss these important financial discussions. The success of your marriage could very well depend on it.