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Money: The Marriage Killer

19 Jan

One reason money is such a conflict in marriage is because “money” and all the behaviors attached to it, has different meaning to different people. And when this difference on money matters arise, many of us revert to bad habits – don’t talk about it and hope it will go away.
 
Well, we are already a few weeks into January and it’s time to get your financial house in order – a News Year’s resolution to add to your list. But this time, I want you to sit down with your significant other and talk money no matter how much you hate it.
 
A recent study found that the economic aspects of marriage are often overlooked. The study said, married couples create more economic assets on average than do cohabitating couples. It went on to say, “individuals who had been continuously married throughout adulthood had significantly higher levels of wealth than those who were not continuously married.”

 

Conclusion – those who never marry but instead “shack up” (my words), have a reduction in wealth of 75 percent. Wow, that’s a big variance. As a newly married man myself, this was an enlightening tidbit of information.

 

Unfortunately, there is a flip-side to this so-called asset-generating-matriMONEY, and it’s all too familiar to many of us. One of the leading causes of divorce is when a couples’ financial situation fails to measure up to expectations; when money stress gets so bad they start to shut down, and the communication between them stops completely. I have sat with couples that only a few years ago were buying a home together, laughing and smiling about the garden they were going to plant and the BBQ they were going to invite me to. Only to see the economy go down the toilet, one spouse loses a job, the bills pile up, the anger and uncertainty build, and the next thing they know they are sitting down to talk  about divorce – It’s just plain awful.


As a mortgage planner it is my duty to educate my clients on “how to” buy a home, not talk about the Marriage Killer that could be lying in wait after the ink has dried on their mortgage documents. Now that  I have seen first hand the pain and pure anguish from a once happily married couple, who now face this fight over money and their marriage, my tune has definitely changed and I try harder to raise this uncomfortable topic.

Below, is a nice short clip from Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine,  speaking directly to this issue. She talks about spenders versus savers, risk takers versus non-risk takers, and a few simple tricks to help you zap the Marriage Killer once and for all. At minimum, sit down with your partner and watch this video together, and I am sure it will elicit some discussion about your current finances and future goals for retirement. Trust me, times are tough now for many folks and the last person you want out of the loop – is your partner.

Spousal Spats About Money

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