Money isn’t everything. But couples who reported disagreeing about finances at least once a week are more than 30 percent more likely to get a divorce.
It’s not just a lack of cash that causes problems. Even couples with higher incomes who argue about money tend to end up separating bank accounts. Whether you ask before you marry next time or use them for a heart-to-heart with your current spouse, these three questions are a great launching point for a financial compatibility check:
1. What does money mean to you?
Most conflicts occur when people have different attitudes about money. Some people think of money as security and are focused on saving. Some feel money should be used to leverage one’s social standing, equating it with success and power. Yet others are spontaneous spenders.
Write out how you feel about money and share that with your partner. Your statements should include how you save and spend now and any attitudes you have about money. Some of those attitudes might be things you learned from your parents (or things you learned not to do).
2. What’s your credit score?
Asking this question feels awkward to most people. But knowing where a person stands will prevent surprises later. It’s important to discuss your financial situation, including income, debt, investments, and savings.
3. What will we share?
Money can end up being the power in a relationship. Can you make joint decisions about the joint account even if one person contributes less (or nothing)? Can you be equal partners knowing one of you makes more money? Be sure to discuss contributions to the relationship that aren’t monetary; if one of you becomes the primary caregiver, it allows the other to work full-time without spending on child care.
How you divide up who pays the bills and who makes the financial decisions is up to you. Some couples don’t keep joint bank accounts. The important thing is to make sure both of you feel comfortable with the result.
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