Getting married is a big exciting step, and one that you should enjoy every second of! Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marriage, and as everyone is different, so it stands to reason that the way everyone falls in love and the way that they behave in love is different too.
You know the one thing that is always the same though? Money.
No matter who you are or how you love, there are some mistakes you should be careful to avoid before you think about tying the knot.
#1 Don’t go walking down that aisle blind
The old adage ‘love is blind’ is an old adage for a reason. Once you love someone it can be hard to accept that they too have faults, like the rest of us mere mortals. Take time to really sit down with your partner and go through every tick and cross on both your balance sheets. If they have debt, or a gambling addiction, or an uncontrollable spending habit, then you need to know about it.
If your partner won’t open up and refuses to participate with you on this, then you need to wonder why.
#2 Don’t be pressured into a wedding you can’t afford
Thanks to a recent American survey, it’s now an open secret that those who spend over $20,000 on a wedding are 1.6 times more likely to get a divorce than those who spend less than a $1,000.
Although the causes for this are not easy to pin down, one theory is that the financial strain an expensive wedding puts on a couple can lead to the marriage breaking down. Don’t be swayed by familial pressure to taking on more than you can afford; this is your day and your budget, no one else’s.
#3 Don’t forget the long term aim
Weddings are great, and it’s a day you’ll never forget for sure, but it’s the marriage that’s the goal. And marriage is long.
Make sure your financial goals, and your life goals, are the same before you marry. Getting caught up in the excitement of the celebration can lead you to gloss over things that seem too far away to bother with, but which actually turn out to be the real core your marriage.
If you marry first and talk later you may find out that your financial ambitions are totally incompatible, and a wedding is a costly mistake to make.
#4 Don’t keep those skeletons hidden away
No one deserves to marry someone if they don’t know the full picture; that goes for your spouse too. A survey by Relate found that 1 in 7 British adults are hiding debt from their partner. 50% of that number named a ‘feeling of shame at being in debt’ as the reason they have not come clean to their partner.
Hiding debt can be massively damaging to your mental health, and that in itself can lead to a marriage breakdown. Honesty is the best policy when entering a marriage; laying your cards on the table from the get go will prevent lies and resentment building up between you over time.
#5 Don’t forget to set boundaries
The most common reason cited for divorce in the UK in 2018 was ‘unreasonable behaviour’. This can be anything from lack of emotional support, lying, and even refusing to provide financial contributions to the family. If you have rules set out before the marriage as to what is and isn’t acceptable financial behaviour, then it’s much easier to have a frank discussion when something goes wrong.
Talk about how you both feel about things such as the way you want to manage your budget, how will you pay into a holiday fund, if you will provide your kids with an allowance, or even how many credit cards you think your household needs.
All these questions seem mundane but deciding on them now will save tears in the future.
#6 Don’t forget you’re a team
According to a recent poll by Creditcards.com, 29 million US adults are hiding a checking, savings or credit card account from their partner. Age isn’t a factor either, as 28% of millennials (18-37-year-olds) in cohabiting relationships admitted to currently hiding an account from their partner too.
The wonderful thing about marriage is you’re a team now. That’s kind of the whole point of it. You’re working from a base that’s twice as big and twice as strong, so you should use it. Don’t hide accounts. Instead, talk to your partner about the best way to use the financial services available to you in order to strengthen your financial position as a couple.
Whilst you may want to keep some things separate - such as individual spending accounts - tackling bills and household budgets should always be a joint venture. Not only are you facing all financial problems together, but with two salaries you are in a much better financial position than you are with just the one.