Are you and your partner financially compatible?
if you’re planning on merging finances after marriage, one person’s debt will become the family’s responsibility to pay. (Shutterstock)
Finding the perfect someone who seems to be a perfect life partner can be a dream come true. Many people at this emotional status and mindset avoid conflicts and disagreement — and talking about money altogether.
In some cultures, even bringing up money issues can be problematic because the person (if it is the man) may risk appearing to be financially insecure. Women typically avoid all talk that involves their potential life partner’s finances so they don’t appear to be digging for a rich catch.
But if we do vet our potential spouses for their education, jobs, family, etc, why should we overlook their money-management abilities? In fact, financial problems are behind the majority of broken marriages — and that is not just because of the lack of money, but because of conflicting approaches to money management.
Compatibility is the key to having a successful marriage, but many people do overlook some serious personal traits related to money management before the marriage and shortly after. Not dealing with these differences can create resentment that eventually drives conflicts over money or anything else. The result can be detrimental to any relationship.
So here are a few things you need to know about your future spouse.
Some people are more debt-averse than others. Their goal is to live as debt-free as possible, even if that means that they will need to compromise on their lifestyle. Others may think of loans as they are meant to be a tool to get things that they enjoy. In their view, there is no harm as long as they afford the payments and poised to pay off the loan per schedule.
Both views are valid. What can cause issues is having two people with these contradictory views trying to make daily decisions. So while you may not call the wedding off if you find your future spouse is one or the other, you will need an open discussion where both of you acknowledge the different views, and work out how decisions will be made.
There is no written rule about how much you should disclose to your spouse about your past debt or credit problems. But if you’re planning on merging finances after marriage, one person’s debt will become the family’s responsibility to pay.
How to ask the question is probably one of the trickiest issues? But you should not just expect that the other person will be more comfortable bringing it up, without being prompted. Although it can be uncomfortable, knowing if there is any debt — and how much — is critical.
Think of a scenario where you walk into a relationship where you find your partner has a massive amount of debt or unable to use bank services because of past issues. This scenario isn’t a big deal if you know about it and able to deal with the consequences. If not, you probably still will need to know before you get your finances combined to avoid any liabilities.
Again people are different in what they set their eyes on, and financial goals can be extremely contradictory in terms of how to channel money for savings and investment. For example, your long-term goals may be to provide for your children’s education and have a comfortable retirement. Another person — your potential spouse, for example — can have a goal of owning a sports car and travelling the world.
When one person is thinking about the long term and another is focused on the present and near future, problems arise. Again, no approach is better than the other; and you can argue about the pros of each scenario. But when you’re in a relationship, people need to reach some common ground where each feels like their goals matter, but without crushing the other’s goals.
That takes a lot of maturity, effective communication and compromise for to happen. But when it does, extremes can attract, without breaking the bank.
By Rania Oteify
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