Love, marriage & money: It can be complicated

35137029_MCash. Moolah. Dough. Whatever you call it. money can be an emotionally charged topic for even the most committed and smitten couples. It can affect otherwise healthy relationships and sour them, if one or both partners are not careful with money or even if they simply disagree about how to handle money. In fact, strains related to finances are a leading cause of divorce in this country. Eeek! Whether it’s a significant other or spouse, if you are going to be romantically involved with someone, expect that money will come up at some point. When it does, will you lean into the conversation or shrink?

How you approach money in your partnership matters. Here are three ways it can affect your relationships along with some tips for managing expectations:

1. It could be a a buzzkill in your dating life. If money’s tight, you might not have the means to spend a lot of money on non-essentials. While it might not prevent you from dating altogether, it could certainly put a cramp in your style. If you’re concerned about breaking the bank, experts suggest starting with low-cost activities like coffee or a cocktail to stay on track. You can still put yourself in the game without compromising financial security.

Even though it might take some fun out of the pursuit, thinking of a date as an investment makes sense. Keep your outings simple and modest until you the feel the relationship has legs. And even when you’re serious, you can still be frugal. These date ideas might inspire you to think out of the box. Just keep social distancing and other measures in mind. It’s time to get creative!

2. It could complicate things. Consider the reality that two people bring their own set of habits, attitudes and goals to the table when it comes to money. They might not necessarily be aligned, and this can make things awkward in a relationship. For example, if you are always paying for dinner out and your partner never picks up the tab, you might feel resentful over time. On the other hand, the person on the receiving side may feel insecure, and it could create tension.

The antidote? The conversation has to go from “me” only to “us.” If and when you commingle your finances —or at least go in on bills—what’s most important is that you both talk about how you want to spend it. Stick to a budget, and communicate often and openly.

You should also know that getting married can affect how lenders view you as an applicant. For instance, no longer do you just have to worry about your credit score when purchasing a home. Financial institutions will look at both partners’ financial history. This could help or hurt your chances. That’s why paying down bad debt before you apply for a home loan together can make a difference. Your credit score and report will reflect that.

Another factor that carries a great deal of weight is transparency. Don’t let skeletons in your financial closet get in the way. Everyone wants to feel like their feelings are being considered. To that end, discussions about budget, expenses and goals can help ease tensions and even bring you closer together. Financial gurus recommend dedicating time each month for these conversations, so there are no surprises and both partners feel engaged.

3. It could bring you together. Sharing finances is probably the most significant financial decision you can make as a couple. It can also set the tone for your financial union. If you learn how to articulate your concerns objectively, you’re more apt to diffuse conflict earlier and easier. The trick is to be honest with yourself and your partner about expectations. While a budget might not have a lot of sex appeal, it can save you some fights down the road because it provides a framework for your spending (and saving) habits. Don’t let heated arguments about financial moves pull you apart. It has to be a joint effort, or else conflict is inevitable.

If you are in a relationship, what useful tips or tricks do you have for making money matters manageable?

If you’re struggling with coming to an agreement about finances and other options have been exhausted, it might be time to evaluate your future as a couple. At the end of the day, divorce isn’t something most people really want, but when it happens, you need an attorney with relevant experience and knowledge to make your divorce process go as smoothly as one could hope. Ascent Law Firm is here to lend knowledge and experience to your case. We are happy to consult and answer any questions you may have. If you are in need of family law services, please contact us today. In the meantime, it never hurts to brush up on financial literacy so you can keep the peace at home.

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