Managing Money and Marriage

One of the major causes of divorce in marriages today is the issue of money. Money, or the lack thereof, can cause discord and stress, especially for marriages that are already struggling. But you can take some basic steps to prevent problems from happening or to overcome small money and marriage issues before they blow up.

Prepare Before Marriage
It may be tempting to put off a conversation about money out of fear that talk of bank accounts or prenuptial agreements gets in the way of romance. Having an understanding of both your and your future spouse's goals can bring a more secure base to the marriage, and you can get the subject off your minds so you can enjoy your wedding even more.

If you are just now considering marriage, the smartest thing you and your partner can do is to get some financial marriage counseling before you tie the knot. A marriage counselor can sit down with you and help you understand the role money can play in a marriage.

Couples also need to make clear to each other what the financial situation is going into the marriage and what their expectations are after marriage. If she has her own bank account now will she maintain it? Is one partner expected to continue working even if he or she wants to stay at home? What savings do you both bring to the marriage, and what will they be used for? These are all legitimate questions that need to be answered, preferably before marriage.

You may also want to share everything, including your bank accounts. However, the two of you should retain your bank accounts for purchases that you'd like to make on your own. Feeling like you have to get permission for every single purchase can stir up an argument. For payments on items that you share, such as rent, a mortgage or utilities, you can open a joint checking account.

Buying a Home
Married couples often buy a home together, but a new home can also become a source of financial worry. Many times couples buy more of a home than they can actually afford. It would be wise to consider saving until you can make a considerable down payment before buying. Another smart plan is to buy a home whose payment can be handled on one paycheck, which will help take the stress off the marriage if one of you are out of work for any length of time.

Creating Debt
In our fast-paced world of credit cards, creating debt is all too easy. In fact, it often seems that the more debt you have, the easier it is to get a credit card, which leads to more debt. Couples will want to evaluate the debt they are going to bring in to the marriage and do their best do erase it beforehand. If that is not possible, have a system in place in which your goal is to eliminate past debt as quickly as possible.

You may be tempted to hide the debt until after the wedding, especially if you are planning an expensive wedding. But you need to get it out in the open. Learning to get along as a couple is hard enough, and no one needs the hidden surprise of a spouse's debt they didn't know about up front. So, be honest, and plan together to try to pay it off.

For those who are already deep in debt, the stress of debt and creditors calling can strain a marriage beyond belief. Husbands and wives can become estranged over fights about whether or not to pay the phone bill. There are a number of places you can go to for financial counseling, but research them first.

Debt consolidation may sound good from the late-night ads, but it can make your credit worse, and consolidators may even run off with the money you already have. You may need to do your own homework and read the work of authors who offer sound practical advice to help you get out of debt. In most cases, there are no quick fixes. However, if you work together and develop a debt-management plan you both agree on, you will not only clear up your debt but also make your marriage stronger.

Put Your Spouse First
Marriage advice often covers those who don't have enough money, but some couples go to the other extreme when one partner turns into a workaholic. These people may bring plenty of money to the household, so they don't have debt problems, but they need to make sure they aren't sacrificing their family to make money.If you are someone who spends more time on the job than with your wife or husband, consider the cost. Is the fancy car worth your marriage? Would your spouse be just as happy away with you at a local bed and breakfast instead of a cruise? A marriage takes time and effort, and you can't provide that if you are never with your spouse.

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Some people say money is the root of all evil; that may not be far from the truth when it comes to marriage problems. Money is a huge source of strain on many couples, from managing money to not making enough of it. If you and your spouse are dealing with a troubled marriage due to financial strain, don't be afraid to seek out marriage advice or professional marriage help.
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