Getting hitched is not all it’s cracked up to be. Disney movies and romantic comedies provide us with a picture of domestic bliss and happily ever after. But we need to be realistic and manage our expectations, especially in a time like 2021.
If you plan to take the next step in your relationship, you need to ensure that you and your partner are financially ready. Here are some financial questions to ask before getting married.
What’s the debt situation?
It’s hard to be vulnerable about your real financial and debt situation. But this is one of the first things we need to be honest about with our betrothed because you will share financial responsibilities and burdens once you get married. Sure, your future spouse’s debt is still their own, but it will still influence you.
Moreover, if one or both of you have too many debts, you might have a difficult time getting a home loan because it’s one of the first things lenders look at. If you want to build your dream home together, you need to find ways to improve your debt situation before taking the next step.
Who is the main financial provider?
This may sound like an outdated principle. But it would be best to establish that at least one of you will be more responsible than the other in holding up your household’s financial life. While it’s entirely possible (and encouraged!) for both of you to have an income, you never know when your season in life might change. This can be in the case of an unexpected baby or one of you falling ill.
You need to always communicate expectations about who will shoulder the majority of the bills. Studies show that 18.3 percent of arguments between married couples always involve mundane financial things like salaries, spending, bills, and other day-to-day financial matters.
Who pays the bills may seem like such a small thing. But negative emotions could accumulate over time and build so much resentment in the long term. Managing and setting financial expectations can help you avoid so much unnecessary conflict, and worse, divorce.
Is a prenuptial agreement necessary?
If one of you or both of you have substantial financial assets, you need to consider signing a prenuptial agreement. Find out if one of you thinks of the ideas as preposterous or offensive. A prenuptial agreement is a private agreement between you and your future spouse that sets forth how your assets will be divided in the event of death or a divorce or annulment.
Laws regarding prenups vary from state to state. But wherever you may be, prenups exist to protect you and your spouse from unfairness and lack of transparency. If you must spring this conversation with your betrothed, be gentle and kind. Assure them that it doesn’t mean you love or trust them any less and that the prenup is both for your protection.
What are your financial boundaries?
Suppose one or both of you struggle with overspending or something more egregious as compulsive gambling. In that case, what safeguards will you put in place to ensure that your marriage is protected from these compulsions? Here are some examples of boundaries you can agree on:
- Asking for your spouse’s permission before spending over a certain amount of money
- How you two will handle it if a family member needs or asks for financial support
- What luxuries you two can spend on, like lavish vacations or designer brands
- How much help you two will accept if you find yourselves needing financial help from family members
You need to agree on plenty of scenarios first before you take the next step in your relationship.
Do you have the same convictions when it comes to investing in your financial future?
Suppose you and your betrothed don’t have the same fundamental principles when building a financial future. In that case, you need to expect that it might be a point of contention down the road.
Do both of you want kids, or does one of you see it as an impediment to financial security? What are your thoughts on stocks, investments, bitcoin, and other business-related and money-making ideas? While it’s impossible for two people to completely agree on everything, you need to agree on basic principles and compromise where you can.
Getting married is a serious commitment, and you need to ensure that you and your partner are financially ready for it. Ask each other hard questions so that you can avoid surprises and problems down the line.