Some say there’s no romance without finance. Since many claim money matters are a significant part of why marriages succeed (or don’t), I checked in with Dr. Taffy Wagner, author of Bride and Groom Money Talk FAQ: Financial Advice for Brides and Grooms. Read on for her expertise on debt-inducing weddings, bad credit and the importance of communication.
Black Bridal Bliss: What percentage of couples divorce because of money?
Dr. Taffy Wagner: Those groups that track statistics cannot say how many are ending because of money. It falls into the category of “irreconcilable differences”. When the issue is masked as money, the real reason is [usually] someone’s value system is not being respected. In most relationships, there is a shopper and a saver. Within each of these traits, balance is important. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be a shopper or a saver. Spouses need to communicate.
BBB: What are your feelings on couples going into debt for their wedding day?
Dr. Wagner: It sets the wrong tone going into the marriage. When [the wedding] bills start coming, they could start pointing the finger at each other and saying this is your fault. The arguments and stress will begin. Couples paying for their own wedding are getting an opportunity to learn how to work together. Skills they are able to use include negotiation, compromising, budgeting and staying within that budget.
BBB: What steps should engaged or nearly engaged couples take before tying the knot?
Dr. Wager: 1 – They should make a vow to always communicate with each other openly and honestly. They should not let any situation become bigger than their love for one another. Also, they should think and talk towards solution.
2 – Before planning the wedding, they should ask what each person is bringing to the table in the way of income and expenses. Even if parents are paying for the nuptials this is still a good place to start. This way they know what their financial picture looks like before they unite.
3 – When talking finances, order your credit reports and give them to each other. This allows an opportunity to explain some choices. You cannot fight for yourself if you are not aware of what’s on your credit report.
4 – They should decide who will manage the finances with the understanding that the spouse who is not managing the money be kept in the loop. Too many times one person is managing the money then something happens to the money manager and the other spouse doesn’t know where to start.
5 – Make a pact with each other that whatever happens with “their” marital finances will stay within their household unless they are getting professional help. Involving mom or dad, friends or co-workers will only slant the situation. Others give advice based on their experiences and relationships which may not have anything to do with what is happening in your household.
6 – Be true to yourselves about what you value. The bride and groom should write down what they would like to see longterm. Then give list to the other one and decide on mutual financial goals. This should happen before you tie the knot so you know you’ve chosen a person that is willing to compromise for the benefit of the marriage.
7 – Do not judge each other for the financial decisions that were made prior to saying “I Do”; especially if you were not together. Sure some of you may have dated for a long period of time but there still may be a side to your fiancé that you are not aware of. Give each other an opportunity to start clean and don’t make your future spouse pay for someone else’s mistakes.
You’ve dreamed about your wedding day, now take time to start dreaming about your marriage. Create what you want it to look like. Show your fiancé that you are thinking big picture. Your journey has just begun.
Did you find Dr. Wagner’s advice helpful? Why or why not?