Have the money talk with your partner early and often, says blogger Chonce Maddox.

Marriage is a commitment between two people in which, after legalizing their unions, they plan to experience life side-by-side and share many moments together. A huge factor that can threaten this union, aside from infidelity, is finances.

About 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and one of the estimated root causes of divorce is money. If you get on the same page financially as your partner, you’ll be setting yourself up for a stronger, more amiable marriage.

When I got engaged last year, everything about my relationship seemed wonderful except the financial aspect. We clashed on a few things and had different spending and saving habits, which made me nervous—mostly because we didn’t have much money. On the bright side, there were no money secrets, neither of us were stubborn about compromise, and everything was out in the open.

Set Expectations and Understand Each Other’s Background

It was important for me to realize that my fiancé doesn’t come from the same background as I do, so I can’t expect him to view or manage money in the same way as me. His parents were very frugal, so it made it seem as if they had more money than they really did and his family didn’t have to struggle as much financially because they kept their living expenses low. Whenever he needed something, he knew he could ask his father and would always be able to receive financial assistance. Because his father made all the financial decisions for his family, my fiancé’s belief was that the man was supposed to be the head of the household and manage all the finances.

On the other hand, I grew up in a household where money was scarce or spent on impulse purchases to enhance our lifestyle. My parents split up when I was in middle school and my mom became the head of the household and the main decision maker.

When I became a Grownup, I valued hanging on to my money a lot more because it always seemed like I never had enough. I taught myself how to manage money in the best way possible and wasn’t waiting around to meet the right man to guide my financial choices.

Once I understood my fiance’s background, I accepted it and voiced any opinions and concerns I had early on so we could deal with it as a couple and make a few compromises. We decided as a team what our financial responsibilities would be in terms of creating a household budget, paying bills, and our game plan for eliminating debt.

Write Down Candid Goals

Writing down candid goals and comparing them can really help you understand what your partner wants for the future. My fiancé is super nice and has always been accommodating with friends and family, so I wondered if he was just agreeing with my goals because he didn’t want conflict.

To put my mind at ease, I asked him to write down his goals on a sheet of paper and I did the same on a separate sheet of paper. When we finished, we exchanged papers so we could see what the other person’s true responses were without influencing each other.

My partner’s true goals helped me determine what his priorities are and if we have any opposing views.

As an example, I was interested in his opinion on large purchases like buying our first house. When we did this exercise, it revealed that he wanted to purchase a house in the next five years while I believed we would be ready in two years. We discussed the reasoning behind our views, fixed any miscommunication about the homeownership process, and came to a solution that made us both happy.

Have Monthly Money Meetings

Monthly money meetings are a great way for Grownups to remain on the same page financially. We meet at least once a month to discuss our budget in detail, our goals for the future, and things we need to work on more in general.

It’s a great way for us to build a solid foundation based on clear communication, accountability, and encouragement. More importantly, these meetings are a commitment to each other to improve our financial situation as a team. It opens the door for safe and productive conversations followed by actionable solutions and positive results.

Use the Right Tone of Voice and Phrases

After we had a few disagreements over money, I realized there is a specific way to address my concerns with my partner and how important it was to do so in order to set a positive tone instead of a negative one.

Instead of using phrases like:

“I wish you would stop spending money on ______.”

“Why can’t you ever _______?”

I used questions and comments that allow him to feel like he didn’t have to put up a defensive wall with me:

“When you do _____ it makes me feel ________.”

“Instead of _______, how do you feel about trying ___________?”

“You seem to be good at _________. Can you show me how to do that?”

“I want us to be on the same page; do you have time to discuss ________?”

Framing the discussion this way helps to express my thoughts, feelings, and concerns about money in a positive way and has really helped us see eye to eye.

Be Willing to Change

My partner and I were both willing to change our habits and commit to what was logical in terms of managing finances for our family. These techniques really helped us get to a better place where I feel that I’m able to walk down the aisle in just two short months with no hesitations or concerns about our financial future.

This photo shows freelance writer Chonce Maddox
Chonce Maddox is a freelance writer
and mom residing in the Midwest.
You can read more of her writing
and journey to debt freedom at
MyDebtEpiphany.com

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