First Comes Love, Then Comes Finances...? Pt. 1
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Part 1: Falling In Love = Financial Understanding
Marriage signifies adulthood; the maturity to desire and the capability to assume the responsibilities of starting a family and structuring a household. Falling in love requires more work than many of us are led to believe, so when the fairy tale ends or never begins we can no longer face the reality. It is important that two whole people enter into a healthy relationship so that any and all compromises benefit both for the "right" reasons.
Money tends to be a guarded and vulnerable subject for many of us. Unless the persons involved are on one extreme or the other on the financial spectrum (poor or wealthy) money is not discussed in depth until after the marriage or the moving in process takes place. Unfortunately, we rarely feel the need to have candid conversations with our loved ones regarding the importance of being financially healthy. It is a closed topic that has shielded and handicapped many of us from the realities that quickly hit us once we leave our nests. Often times, the realization comes once we have spiraled into unhealthy debt, lose the comfort of a job and other significant life changes.
The organizing of the household’s finances should be a joint venture, where both parties are active participants in the establishment of the budget, merging of personal accounts, and so forth. Having these conversations limits confusion, strengthens the foundation, and lends itself to transparency.
There are many different financial scenarios that can quickly become your reality once you enter into a marriage:
One looks to save first while the other looks to spend
One is committed to putting their money in the joint account(s) whilst the other is not
One brings in the majority of the money and has the least amount of financial responsibilities
One is controlling with the money and puts the other on a strict budget
One values financial stability (investing, retirement saving accounts, etc.) while the other is carefree and oblivious to fiscal matters
Both partners are financially naïve
One is comfortable with their current state in life while the other has ambitions
One partner has outside responsibilities (bad debt, wage garnishments, child support, alimony payments, etc.) that is affecting the household’s financial well-being
One does not see the issue with debt while the other wants to be debt-free
It is important to know what you are committing yourself to because a marriage should make both partners better than they could have ever been separate or with someone else. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 informs us that: “two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone (NIV)?" Being unequally yoked has ramifications that will spill over into other areas of your relationship with one another and others. A divided household cannot stand, because the foundation is constantly shifting. It is important to make assessments before children and merging of finances, personalities, philosophies, come into play that will further complicate the matters. Every “good” person is not meant to be yours, so it is important to know when God is saying He has a spouse for you as opposed to trying to make that decision on His behalf.
So, the first step in ultimately reaching Marital Bliss/ Financial Stability is to first Fall In Love which equates to Financial Understanding.
Money is one of those touchy subjects that oftentimes lead to a couple’s demise. Strive to not sweep important conversations under the rug; therefore, by addressing them head-on nothing is lingering and confusion is minimized. It is imperative to be proactive instead of reactive to the sensitive and tense situations that can arise if not handled with the correct level of care and importance. I have listed a few action steps that will help to initiate the necessary conversations and encourage the needed behaviors:
Openly and honestly discuss what your aspirations are. Do you want the same or similar outcomes (children, a home, cars, land, etc.)? If so, are you all content with each other’s approach to gaining and/ or maintaining these desires?
Make a mock budget to see how each partner intends to spend and create money (take out loans, credit, personal financing, work multiple jobs, entrepreneurship, asking family or friends for assistance).
Get outside assistance, if you have the financial ability to seek the advisement of a financial advisor that can help you assess your current financial status and help you get to your end goals.
Do not confide in others without first confiding in your partner. It is important that transparency with marital issues and financial matters are addressed with the appropriate person from the very beginning. This will eliminate the outside factors and people that often feel that their opinion should carry a greater level of significance than it actually should.
It is important to know the person that you are wanting to spend forever with, so not only is having that “spark” important, but life views and values are just as necessary. If these types of conversations are uncomfortable or not welcomed, then this foreshadows how things will be once the newness of the relationship (the “honeymoon” phase) fades. Disagreements in marriage and money will arise, so do not feel that everything has to be 100% compatible. However, if there is hardly any common ground that should definitely be a red flag that is paid attention to. Ecclesiastes 7:12 reminds us that “wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: wisdom preserves those who have it (NIV).”
*Part 2, will discuss The Engagement which begins the process of Financial Goal Setting along with the importance of unbiased marriage counseling.