Conversations to Have Before you Get Married

Wedding season is almost upon us and many couples are putting in the final preparations to say, “I do.” But amidst the flurry of ordering flowers, booking venues, and picking out cake flavors, it is easy to forget to find space to have an open conversation with your fiancé about finances. This is a vital conversation that is easily pushed to the sidelines because other items on the agenda seem more important, because of a reluctance to expose your financial past to your significant other, or simply because you do not know how to begin.

A common cause of divorce or strife in a marriage is disagreements about finances. Getting on the same page with your beloved regarding finances and working toward goals that you created together will help to limit money being the cause of disputes in your marriage. You are not alone if the thought of talking about money makes you uncomfortable; however, the more open you are about your financial past and goals for the future, the easier it will be to plan a life with your loved one that does not involve miscommunications, secrets, disappointed expectations, or arguments about money.

How do you start this conversation?

  • Intentionally set aside time to talk with your significant other about finances. Like all other good intentions, it is easy to keep pushing back things you need to do if you do not set a deadline for yourself.

  • Focus on a topic. As John Heywood once said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Do not feel like you need to cover everything in one meeting. Ideally, this conversation is one that never ends. Over the course of your marriage you should revisit these topics to see how you are doing or whether anything has changed.

What topics should you talk about?

This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few ideas to get the conversation started:

  • Talk about your “financial personalities.” Generally speaking, people fall into two categories: savers and spenders. Knowing you and your spouse’s financial personality will help you understand how you both relate to money.

  • Talk about your financial goals. Figure out what goals you have in common and where you differ. In marriage, you work as a team, which is easier when you are working toward the same goals.

  • Talk about debt. It is important not to hide debt from each other. Instead, be honest and figure out how you will tackle debt as a couple.

  • Talk about budgeting. Budgeting is something that the couple should work on together. Instead of one person calling all the shots, make the decisions of what to allocate to each category together.

Hopefully these conversations turn from ones that may cause fear or anxiety to feelings of excitement and motivation. Setting financial goals with your significant other and tackling them together as a team is something that should help build up the marriage and not tear it down. As NEXUS peer coaches, we are here to help you start these conversations and to help mediate the discussion. If you are planning on getting married, schedule a NEXUS appointment and check another box off your list!