As you already know, there should be no secrets in romantic relationships; especially those that are moving on to matrimony. You’ve all heard the saying, “Honesty is the best policy.” That is so true in every aspect of life, including relationships with significant others, and certainly relationships with your spouse. Maybe something that happened in the past, prior to meeting your chosen one, is better left alone and untold. Granted. But what happens when there are secrets relative to money and the way one spouse or the other handles it? What if one has accumulated a large debt that the other one knows nothing about? What if one loves to splurge on expensive items and the other likes to know where every penny is going that leaves the wallet or checking account? In a word, trouble.
Many people who are in financial strain show no outward signs. People function every day and seem fine, letting nobody know that they are having money troubles. They have a house, a car, and nice clothing, but they may be toting credit card debt in 5 or 6 digits. Is it possible that your mate has money issues that you are unaware of? Absolutely.
So your spouse is a shopper and you are not. Your spouse buys expensive gifts for you to celebrate your birthday, anniversary, or just because. You remember special days, but you don’t go all out. Suddenly, creditors are calling about exceeded credit limits and letters are being received containing late payment notices. Do you panic? Of course you do, if you’re the thrifty one.
Approach it. Don’t let it eat at you. Ask your spouse. Have a heart to heart conversation. This dialog may certainly lead to arguing and trying to figure out why you didn’t know any of this before you were married. Maybe your spouse feels entitled to spend more money than you do if you spouse makes more money. That is no good. Marriage is a partnership and a united give-and-get situation. It doesn’t matter who makes more money. So how do you fix these issues? Here are some ideas.
First, come clean with each other. Be sure that you and your spouse know every bit of money that is owed to a creditor, even if things were purchased before you met. Once again, honesty is the best policy.
Make all spending known to each other. Get a budget book, or any notebook, and record every expenditure; every expenditure, from the coffee drink in the morning to the drink with your friends after work. After the trends can be seen on paper, devise a budget.
Try to set financial goals for the future; i.e., 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years. Where do you want to be? Do you want to be retired? Do you want to move across the country? Do you want to travel? All of that takes money (and savings). Planning is essential.
Analyze your money, together. Sit down together every month and pay the bills. Reconcile checking and savings accounts, and look at credit card debt. Being brutally honest is necessary.
Once you’ve both committed to getting your finances in order, it will take time. You both will get angry and frustrated at times. It will be a long process. Try to prepare for it. Along the way, if you find you need some help dealing with how to solve your financial problems and the issues is putting a strain of your marriage, you may want to reach out and let the professionals at the Relationship Center of Orange County help you.