Money and Relationships/ January 11th, 2020
We all know the infamous love story: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They get married. Then girl finds out boy has tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The bills are a struggle and they are working all the time. The fighting begins. The story may end with an ugly divorce. Is there a way to avoid such a mess?
“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce,” said Dr. Sonya Britt, assistant professor of Family Studies and Human Services and program director of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money for both men and women.”
So, the real question is, how can couples avoid this kind of situation? Talking about finances during the courting period may not be the most romantic thing in the world, but it may be key to forming a healthy relationship .
The conversation could start with sharing stories about how money was valued in their families when they were growing up. They can talk about some of the debts they have and how they’re handling them currently. As the relationship progresses and you learn more about each other, begin to ask deeper questions. What are the long-range goals for becoming debt free? What standard of living are they expecting and will their current incomes and debts allow them to reach those goals? Even a discussion about retirement is not too farfetched. As the relationship grows, these conversations will become easier.
It is important to talk about and create a budget. Discuss the debts you both bring into the relationship (car payments, student loans, etc.) and include those in your planning. Make a goal to pay them off and try to avoid incurring any new debt. A financial counselor at your local credit union can help you find solutions to any financial problems either of you may have and put you on a solid path for your future financial well-being.
The reality is that talking about money is not always fun. We have all made mistakes and at times it is hard to own up to them. Couples need to realize, however, that honest discussions early in a relationship can save a lot of heartache and disagreements later.
Talk to one another about your financial expectations and goals. Your relationship truly depends on it.