Money in Marriage

By: Helga Hayse

It?s not just first time brides who have trouble talking about money. Women who remarry have many of the same money hang-ups, especially if money was a touchy subject the first time around.

It?s counterintuitive to think about widowhood or divorce when you?re getting married. Few women do. Without thinking of the consequences of letting our husband manage our money, we set ourselves up for financial vulnerability. We assume he?s making the right financial decisions about our future. Sometimes he is; sometimes he isn?t. The problem is that we don't want surprises if something happens to end our marriage.

Unfortunately, if we?re not participating in the marital finances, we don?t find out what he?s been doing until we are slammed with a crisis of widowhood or divorce.

Why don?t women participate more fully in marital finances and make sure they?re protected? Theoretically, it should be as easy to talk about money as it is to talk about anything else with our fianc?or husband. The independent adults we are today have, for better or worse, been influenced by what we experienced growing up. Those thoughts and emotions still provide the starting points for the beliefs we have about money.

The problem with talking about money is that it?s rarely just about money. We bring into marriage a whole range of emotions that we project onto money. Our family history with money determines much of attitudes, beliefs and assumptions about money. The same is true for our husband. In too many cases, we're worlds apart from each other.

Money, like electricity or water, is a form of energy that we use to make other things happen.If we were logical about money, our reasoning would be to earn more, spend less, budget, save for emergencies or retirement, and keep an eye on the money so we know where it is.

That?s what we would do if we started a business with a partner. We'd assume that we are an equal partner. We?d discuss the finances regularly with our partner, participate equally in financial decisions and feel we had a right to do that.

We don?t pay attention to the business side of our marriage. But the government does. It looks at our marriage as a business with assets, liabilities, income, expenses, taxes and net worth. That?s the part that could impact our future if our marriage ends.

When marriage begins, it's all about love. Coming out of marriage, either through divorce or death, it?s all about money.

There are ways you can protect yourself before you're slammed with a financial crisis:

Do I understand my marital finances?(

What do I need financially to feel secure?(

How would I manage if I were widowed or divorced?(

Do I sign documents without understanding them?(

Do I know the location of all our financial records?

These five questions will give you a head start on practicing financially safe marriage.

Money Management
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