“Till Money Do Us Part”

Money can’t buy love, but it can sure put an end to it!

Fact Checked by

Taylor Hegna, CFP®

Till money do us part…

Four money mistakes for couples with costly consequences.

It’s no shocker that the age old statistic of 50% of marriages ending in divorce continues to ring true. Although there are many different reasons for divorce, 22% of couples1 across the U.S. are divorcing or separating based on disagreements regarding their finances. Money can’t buy love but it can surely put an end to it!

So, what are the areas about money that might cause trouble in paradise?

1. What fell from the family tree?

It’s not just our looks and mannerisms that we inherit from our family; many of the disagreements around finances with our spouse may stem from how we were raised. These deep underlying beliefs commonly known as, “Money Scripts,” are typically unconscious beliefs about money developed in childhood that drive adult financial behaviors according to  Dr. Henry Klotz.2 This is the underlying narrative of what you believe to be true about money. Who authored this narrative? You did! You authored it based on what you saw from your family or didn’t see, what you heard and didn’t hear, and what you have intuited from the world around you. Is it accurate? To you… it is. The question to ask is does your spouse know what that narrative says. Drastic differences in your underlying beliefs about money as individuals can lead to fork in the road moments in your relationship.

2. Money talks

Nothing can spice up a date night like talking about finances. Many of us may feel a natural tension when money becomes the topic of conversation with our significant other but these conversations are necessary. A lack of communication around spending, combining finances and personal finances, along with mismatched financial priorities can be huge roadblocks on the road to a successful marriage. Couples that argue about finances at least once a week are actually 30 times more likely to get divorced!3 With that in mind, how do you stay in a place of conversation rather than conflict? Start by setting ground rules such as defining the purpose of the conversation and committing to no blaming. Are you looking to understand a purchase? Trying to organize a budget? Set a savings goal? Whatever it may be, make sure to identify it up front. 

3. What are you not telling me?

Whether it’s a secret purchase, secret account, or embarrassing credit card balance, hiding things in relation to money is one the fastest ways to break down the lines of communication in a marriage. In fact, the feeling that a spouse spent money foolishly increases the likelihood of divorce by 45%.4  If we made a mistake or haven’t been transparent with our spouse about a financial issue, coming clean could be the first step towards making a change. Start by identifying what made you feel as though you couldn’t open up to your spouse about the issue. Feelings of fear, judgement, lack of control, or lack of freedom are often underlying reasons people will hide financial missteps from their significant other. It is never too late to give financial counseling a shot!

4. Failing to plan is planning to fail

The best teams in the world become the best teams not by happenstance. They have a game plan and stick with it. There may be adjustments along the way but the primary goals remain the same. A marriage operates much in the same way. Clear goals or objectives can help create alignment for a couple. Once those are established, it’s time to map out a plan of attack. Counting the cost, setting up rewards along the way, and realigning if either of you drift from the previous plan are all great ways to stay on track. With each new season of life, the plan will change, especially when preparing for retirement. How we choose to live out that season of our lives can be vastly different from what our working years looked like. Being on the same page as a couple when making that transition is incredibly important. How we want to spend our time and energy will directly impact how our finances are used. Take a look at our blog “What if my partner and I have different retirement goals” for more on this topic.

If you have questions about creating a plan for the next season as an individual or a couple make sure to reach out to us! We would love to help you get started.

Have a Question?

Do you have specific questions about your next life phase? How can we help?