I often hear brides to be talk about their engagement party, the wedding, 'the dress', members of their bridal party, flowers, décor, the rings, etc. The funny thing is, I rarely hear them talk about life after the wedding and the honeymoon -- you know, real life!
When I became engaged, my church required us to attend a marriage prep course in order to be allowed to get married. Ten couples attended the two-day weekend retreat and because of that time together two couples decided to call off their wedding. I can hear you asking yourself, "but why?" Because we talked about money, trust, communication, having -- or not having children and all the grown up stuff that comes along with The Wedding!
Once the wedding and honeymoon are over the two of you will settle into your new life together and along with that comes playing house. Paying the bills, deciding if you are going to have joint or separate bank accounts, discussing who will handle the household responsibilities and all the other fun stuff that comes along with being a married couple. What if you are marrying for the second or third time and bringing together two families? How is it that some of the most important things soon-to-be wed couples should be discussing never seem to be discussed before the wedding?
After 25+ years in the financial services industry, I have found that there are some common financial mistakes along with some other things that keep rearing their ugly head with newlyweds (and long time married couples as well by the way). Repeatedly, I have heard people say, it was money that broke us up, it was the kids that broke us up or my spouse cheated on me. Well, I cannot help with the last reason but I can think I can help with the other two.
At any age, engaged couples need to be having the courageous conversations with their soon-to-be better half if they hope to succeed at the marriage thing. If you would like to have a better than average chance of not being a divorce statistic here are a few things I suggest you discuss before you even set the wedding date.
- Did your parents openly discuss money in your house when you were growing up?
- If so, were they positive or difficult discussions?
- What is your current relationship with money? Are you a spender or a saver?
- What are your individual credit ratings?
- Will you have a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up?
- Will you live on a budget as a married couple?
- Will you have joint or separate bank accounts?
- Will you have life insurance in the event of a premature death?
- What about critical illness insurance in the event one of you is stricken with an illness and cannot work?
- What about disability insurance if you cannot work due to an unforeseen disability?
- Will you have wills drawn up in the event one of you dies?
- How will you make major financial decisions together?
- Do you want children? If so, when and how many? How will you bring them up? Do you both intend to be hands-on parents? Will one of you stay home? If so, which one?
- If this is not your first marriage, what financial baggage might you be bringing into the new marriage?
- If you are bringing together a blended family, how will that work?
- If you are caring for elderly parents, how will that work?
Married life is wonderful and I highly recommend it, but it also brings with it more than just moonlit walks on the beach, romance, wine and roses. With it come the day-to-day realities of trying to juggle work and home life, money issues, parenting challenges, late nights, sickness, and sometimes unfortunately loss.
To begin your marriage on an open and strong foundation I invite you to visit Jane Blaufus to order my book WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PEN®, Claim your life. The book is full of tips and tools to help you get the 'courageous conversation' started and to set yourself up for a long and happy life together. Please follow me Twitter and on Facebook.