The New Love Deal

What do you wish you had known about your spouse or partner before you married or moved in together? Were you surprised to find out that he or she had bad credit, huge student loans, or even a bankruptcy? Did you know about his or her habit of overspending — or about his or her stingy nature with money? And why didn’t you discuss those things in advance?

Those are all issues that contribute to our high divorce rate and explain why so many couples who move in together in a romantic haze do not make their relationship last. Money is the last taboo subject. And failure to discuss those issues and make a plan for handling money and overcoming differences is the reason so many marriages and relationships end in divorce court or in lawsuits challenging who owns what and who owes what.

Those are the reasons I have just co-authored “The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On!” ( $15.25). My co-authors are Gemma B. Allen, a well-known divorce attorney, and Judge Michele Lowrance, who recently retired after 20 years on the bench in divorce court to start her own mediation service for those divorcing or creating prenups. We all share the same belief that if people put as much effort into planning their marriage or relationship as they do in planning the wedding, they would have far more successful outcomes.

So right from the start, let me say that talking about the practical issues of your life together does not destroy the romance. In fact, quite the opposite is true: It is the essence of romance to be open, honest, and trusting enough to reveal your personal fears and hopes as they relate to your finances. If you fear your beloved won’t be understanding about past money mistakes, then you don’t have a very sound basis for creating a life together. And if you feel compelled to hide your financial issues, you must know that sooner or later, they will surface to impact your future.

Having the Talk
We know it’s not easy to open up about money. That’s why “The New Love Deal” is a guide to having ‘the talk’ — complete with suggestions for setting the scene and creating the opportunity and a checklist for the typical emotional responses that will arise.

After all, there are basically only two types of money personalities — savers and spenders. For better or worse, they tend to fall in love with each other, thereby setting the scene for potential conflict. Those basic tendencies come from your genetic makeup, your childhood experiences, and life’s lessons so far.

At this stage of your life, it’s difficult to change your own money personality — not to mention impossible to change the person you love. The best you can do is to set up systems that avoid inevitable conflict.

For example, you could decide (based on your incomes and ongoing obligations) to each contribute a set amount monthly to be automatically deducted from your personal checking account and put into a joint account for household bills. That lets each maintain separate funds for personal use.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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