Money really is a defining factor in any relationship, but poses special challenges when you’re contemplating marrying for a second (or third) time. In a 2012 study of 4,500 couples, fighting about money early on in a relationship was by far the most accurate predictor of divorce, regardless of income, debt or net worth. Researchers found that no matter how long the relationship had lasted, if there were monetary disagreements early on, there was a good chance that the overall satisfaction with the relationship would be poor. So, if money plays such an important role in our relationships, what can we do about it?
Understand each other’s money story. In most situations, we would do well to gain a little more understanding. Relationships and money are no exception. To communicate effectively, you have to be willing to both listen and share. The first step would be taking a few minutes to do a little introspection. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How did my parents manage money? How did that shape my relationship with money?
- How has my first marriage impacted my relationship with money? Are there any triggers I should tell my spouse about?
Once you’ve been able to gain some clarity on your own money story, approach your significant other and ask them the same questions. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable at first if this isn’t something you regularly talk about together. Just don’t give up. It may take several attempts before you’ve gained some understanding, and that’s completely ok. After you and your partner learn more about how the other views and interacts with money, move on to the next step.
Discuss your obligations. This is important for any couple, but even more so in a subsequent marriage. Oftentimes there are children in the picture, and more assets. This is a good place to begin thinking out loud with your partner and building financial goals for not only you as a couple, but you as an individual who has prior obligations you don’t want to forget about.
Create your financial road map for two. This is where the big bad “B” word comes into play: budget. If budgeting is something new to you, check out our recent post on budgeting here or consider reaching out to our local financial counseling non-profit, OnTrack of WNC. They provide free and confidential budgeting sessions and classes.
Revisit your estate plan. Chances are these documents will need to be updated to reflect your current life situation. If your wishes are not clearly defined and you pass away, your assets could potentially pass all to your spouse and then ultimately will be divided as your spouse has defined in their will when they pass. You also need to make sure you update the beneficiaries on your pension, investment and bank accounts to ensure these assets aren’t unintentionally left to a former spouse. A lot of strife and hurt feelings can be avoided by your future heirs if this piece is thoughtfully revamped prior to a subsequent marriage.
Set your eyes on the prize. It’s no fun to pinch pennies just because. That’s why having a shared financial goal is so important. This part takes a whole lot of dreaming and a little common sense. What would you and your partner do if money wasn’t an object? Start there and back into what a reasonable financial goal is for you in your current situation. When you have identified one, or several, collective goals, write them down! Research has shown that if you write down your goals on a regular basis, the likelihood of achieving them goes up by almost 50%.
Any opinions are those of Rachel Tanksley and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.
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