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How to talk about money in a marriage — before it's too late

How to balance marriage and finances
How to balance marriage and finances
Key Points
  • Money can be a huge stress in long-term romantic relationships.
  • Creating joint financial goals early in a marriage is a key to prosperity.

Of the many investments you'll make in your life, your marriage is perhaps the most important. A happy, stable home, breeds happy, stable children, and the conditions for a quality partnership on which you can build a strong financial future. Talking money with your partner can be challenging, but it's absolutely critical to how you'll manage your life together, avoiding difficult disagreements and ensuring you're on a a prosperous path together. It can also help to dispel what is the most significant source of stress in relationships — money issues.

That's why one of the first things you should do, preferably very early in your marriage, is have a heart-to-heart about your joint financial goals. What do you hope to achieve? Is it an early retirement, a college education for your kids, or a second home?

Keep your treasured dreams front and center, so that you both know what you're working toward. One trick experts say works: Visualize your goals. Keep a visual reminder of your goal where you can both see it, such as a picture of your dream home on your fridge. It'll help keep you motivated.

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Here are a five more tips on keeping the money conversation going as part of a healthy marriage.

Have regular check-in sessions.  This will allow you to gauge progress toward goals, so that you're both fully informed of what's happening, and what you need to do to reach the goals. This is also the time to review your debt, monthly income, taxes, and so forth. Some experts recommend doing this monthly, but it should be at least once a year.

Assign specific responsibilities to each partner. Is one of you better with tax planning or investing than the other? Assign tasks to each partner that they're most comfortable with, but don't allow one partner to do it all. You should each have a stake in managing your joint finances.

Don't excessively criticize your partner over their use of money. Candid conversations are fine. Review your joint finances and find new ways to help keep them on track, but excessive criticism breeds resentment and has destroyed many marriages.

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Don't hide major purchases or financial decisions. This can also be a big source of arguments. A better solution is to allow each partner to keep a separate account with a small amount of their own money to spend as they choose. This helps each partner enjoy a little freedom with their spending.

Don't allow financial problems to fester. This can turn into serious marital difficulties. If you see this happening, it's time to shelve your financial conversations until you can see a financial professional or therapist — preferably both. Do your financial check-ups jointly with professionals, in order to avoid the arguments at home. Let the experts help you devise new strategies for your financial health, and leave the financial problems aside while at home.

The well-being of your marriage should always be your priority.

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