It’s funny when you think about it. You could ask someone to share his/her body with you and, if you’re lucky, after a few dates (or maybe a few drinks) you’d get lucky. But ask that same person about something as simple as how much money they make and you’ll get crickets. People just seem to be tight-lipped when it comes to the specifics of their finances. For the most part, it’s dubbed as something that’s just “too personal.” Yet getting naked with socks on is completely still an option. Yeah, that makes total sense.
While the above might not be the most logical approach to things, it is rather common. I’ll be the first to admit that talking about the specifics of salaries or savings was not something I’ve ever made a habit of unless you were a hiring manager or my accountant. But when you’re in a marriage, that’s the elephant in the room that you have to address at some point.
According to a 2009 study, couples who “disagree about finances once a week” are over 30 percent more likely to get divorced than those that report “disagreeing about finances a few times a month.” With that in mind, it’s safe to say that any couple seriously considering a lifelong commitment should broach the topic of money sooner rather than later. It’s just better to know each other’s spending habits so there won’t be any surprises later on.
The Mrs. and I haven’t quite figured out a succinct system for how we use our joint account. But soon after we got engaged, I showed her what I was working with. We spoke openly about salary, savings and, most importantly, debt. See, the idea of how much your combined incomes will generate is great in theory, but you have to consider the potential financial baggage your partner may have.
In my case, I came into the marriage with two properties, so that’s two mortgages that my then-girlfriend had no say in or responsibility for. But once she became my wife, those monthly expenses are now part of our financial existence. This is where that whole “what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours” philosophy comes into play.
As the breadwinner of our family—and being more organized—I generally handle all of the bills, but lately I’ve been thinking about making some adjustments. By taking the reins of our finances, I may have inadvertently done my wife a disservice. While she has an idea of our monthly expenses, she doesn’t play an active role in managing them. That’s no fault of her own; I’m guilty of unintentionally cutting her out of the process.
One of any couple’s biggest fears is something happening to one of the partners. As I’ve thought about that in relation to handling the lion’s share of our household finances, I’ve come to the decision that I need to make some changes. In addition to communicating with my wife better about what’s coming in and out of our bank account(s) and why, it may be time to consider securing life insurance.
At only 36 years young, that idea may seem a bit premature, but it’s the mature thing to do. When you start a family, you have to do everything in your power to protect them—not just in the immediate future, but the rainy days ahead. Ultimately, the Mrs. and I made an investment in each other, until death do us part, and it’s only right to protect that investment.
Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.