Most of us are willing to overlook certain things for a spouse.
Maybe she doesn’t comment on his penchant for splashing water all over the vanity when he brushes his teeth. Perhaps he holds his tongue about how her homemade chicken soup is never quite as good as what his mom used to make. When you’re married, it’s natural to want to avoid making waves over minor issues.
When it comes to money matters, and especially credit, however, avoidance can turn toxic. Marriage counselors and your great Aunt Susie who’s been married for 45 years would probably tell you the same thing – communication is key to any successful marriage. Communicating about money is doubly important.
Perhaps you haven’t yet clashed over finances, or perhaps money has been a source of strife for some time, but if you and your mate have a tendency to avoid talking about money, the time to remedy that situation is now. Conflict over money is a leading cause of divorce.
Take these four steps:
Step 1 – Clear the air.
Acknowledge whatever money issues you’ve been trying to overlook, and do your best to sit down together and discuss these matters calmly. Pretending problems don’t exist won’t make them go away. Talking them through can help move you toward a solution – together.
Step 2 – Reassess.
Pull out your bank statements, credit reports, credit scores, and other financial papers. Then, go over everything together. If you don’t already have a household budget, start one. If your budget has been stagnant for awhile, take another look at it. You’ll need to work together to get a clear picture of your current financial situation.
Step 3 – Clarify your goals.
What actions does your financial situation call for? Do you need to pay down debt? Increase retirement or education savings? Boost your emergency fund? Discuss what you need to do and how you’ll both work toward achieving your shared financial goals.
Step 4 – Renew your vows.
Managing money together is an important aspect of any marriage, but it’s not the most important one by any stretch. Renew your promises to each other to be open and honest, and to work together to build your life together. After all, money is only a tool you can both use to help make your marriage more secure and strong, but it’s not the source of your love for each other.