When working with engaged couples in premarital counseling, when I’ve asked the question, What do you think is the biggest looming threat to your living happily ever after together?, I usually hear replies that touch on issues like pornography, affairs, lack of healthy communication, having children, growing distance between spouses, conflict with in-laws, ESPN (!), and placing a higher priority on career pursuits than on the marriage, just to name some. All of these issues do hold the potential for threatening a healthy and lasting marriage. But they are not the most imminent threat.
The biggest looming threat to your impending marriage will be ongoing conflicts over handling money. It’s an issue that is too often overlooked in preparing for marriage. But the fact is that money issues are the most common source of stress for couples. Money can be to marriage what a match is to gasoline…explosive! So when it comes to your future marriage, how you choose to manage your finances together is a very big deal!
Your approach to how you handle your money: budgeting, debt, spending, savings, investing, as well as your tolerances for risk versus security will invite a whole host of tensions to take up residence in your marriage — unless you and your partner are willing to roll up your sleeves and together wrestle with money issues now — before your marriage.
Both you and your soon-to-be spouse will enter into your marriage with unique money “personalities.”
Because you and your partner are both unique in your views of handling money, it will be worth every minute of time and energy you put into identifying those preferences and tendencies. Then, I encourage you to make the intentional effort to reach a consensus — to get on the “same page” — on how you will handle finances in your life together. This will help to minimize the financial stress and conflict you are otherwise likely to experience in marriage.
I wish that I could guarantee that you’ll eliminate all potential financial stresses between the two of you in your upcoming marriage. Unfortunately, I cannot. There will be times in your marriage where money will be a source of stress. But taking steps now to develop a sense of harmony between the two of you on money issues will make a huge positive difference in your marriage.
For more detailed information on finances and other topics related to preparing for you marriage, my friend Doug Fields, and I have written a new book that we hope will prove to be very helpful as you embark on the journey of marriage. In addition to finances, our book, Getting Ready for Marriage: A Practical Roadmap for Your Journey Together covers important topics like communication, conflict, sexuality, in-laws, marriage expectations, and more.
Additionally, we will release two additional resources to help you prepare for marriage in the coming months: The Getting Ready for Marriage Communication Online Tool, and our Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook. Visit www.gettingreadyformarriage.com for more information about these resources.