Thursday, March 12, 2015

Marriage and money: Making it work despite the obstacles

I have yet to meet a couple who hasn't squabble over money. Most times, the financial struggle happens with married couples, but that doesn't mean that those unmarried but committed couples avoid a confrontation or two.

Countless reports reveal that the largest contributing factor to divorces is money. This is not limited to those who are financially strapped. Even couples from high income brackets have called it quits over finances.

Most research I've come across blame a lack of communication. Conversations with friends and family support this finding. We just believe that a commitment will somehow fix what is unspoken, or maybe what's just broken. It can be that most couples can't communicate honestly about many hot topics, with money being the hottest topic to address. This is especially true if they were raised in a family that wasn't comfortable talking about money either.

Other times, obstacles such as expectations and traditions play a role. These are limited to how the man makes the money and the woman is expected to live within a certain budget. But with more women now hitting the workforce and earning more degrees than males now, traditions are slowly and steadily becoming a thing of the past. Unless you are still in a culture that respects old traditions regardless of how much a woman earns.

Even if you have a game plan, money is sure to cause some friction. It's bound to happen when life's unexpected events can come with a hefty price tag. In the end, what it boils down to is how much a partner is willing to risk to make a marriage work. This can result in two endings: either one caves in to please the other or both partners mutually agree to contribute and refrain from resentment and judgment.

What do the experts say? You're supposed to take each individual income if you're both working and divide it by the outstanding expenses during any given month. This is supposed to reap a fair proportion of your income to the expenses you pay. It's how courts divide up the wealth during divorces and it's supposed to commit each partner to paying what they can according to what they earn. In households where one partner is at home, the general rule is to sit down, preferably with a financial advisor if the griping has reached unwanted proportions, and decide what works best for each couple. For those who are weary of those advisors, there are also consumer credit counselors who can start couples on a budgeting plan.

We're warned not to allow money to become a marital issue as soon as the engagement is announced. It's a stern warning that can again lead to two patterns: either one partner gives in or money is never mentioned to avoid a confrontation. Rare do you find that ideal couple who walks into a marriage having figured out a mutually accepted financial strategy. Making financial counseling mandatory for a marriage license can help many couples overcome these barriers, even though many would frown at having courts interfere in such personal matters. But it's a strategy that many religious institutions and counselors highly recommend, and a little help is never a problem to any conflict.

No comments:

Post a Comment