Marriage may seem to you like a proud accomplishment - that glorious moment when your fairy tale ending finally comes true and you can set off into the sunset to raise a beautiful, charming family and share happy stories over lemonade and tea cakes on your pool deck.
But reality is far from happily ever after--if married couples don't manage their financial situations well enough to keep it from hurting their romance.
Sure, you may be able to achieve a divine image of a perfect family with the help of money (and lots of it!), but if you're both making your way up the career ladder, here are five financial blunders that you should avoid if you want to retain some sort of romance in your marriage:
1. Your Money is My Money. While it’s very important for married couples to treat their money as “our money,” many couples feel as though they have to share their bank balances in order to prove that they really love each other. The problem with this arrangement is that it allows each spouse to know exactly how the other is spending money. So not only does this make it impossible for you to buy presents for each other, it can also breed resentment if either does not understand the other’s spending habits. Pool your resources as a married couple in a way that works for you, but also allow yourself a little financial independence. That way, a random splurge on a mani-pedi or a video game does not escalate into an unnecessary argument.
2. Keeping Financial Secrets. On the flip side is when one spouse keeps monetary secrets from the other. Whether you have credit card debt that you are not talking about, or a sudden windfall that you’re keeping to yourself, money secrets can be a recipe for resentment and marital strife. Each of you need to know where the marriage stands financially. Conversations about something you have been keeping to yourself may be a difficult one, but ultimately, treating the marriage as a financial partnership can bring you closer together.
3. Keeping Your Goals To Yourself. People tend to fall into habits that they were raised with, or habits they were used to before marriage. Unfortunately, that also means that married couples sometimes go on financial autopilot without determining what they really need or want. Having a conversation with your spouse about where you want to be financially will help you both make better financial, career, and life decisions.
4. Enabling Each Other’s Bad Money Choices. This is one of the toughest mistakes to break out of, especially if neither spouse is good at impulse control. It’s very important for you both to practice being the voice of reason. While taking a two-week vacation to Europe may sound like a dream getaway especially after a tough year, it may not bring you closer to your goals. Practice saying no to each other. If necessary, create a rule where you have to discuss any financial purchases over a certain limit--example: expenditures over RM500 should be deliberated. Do you really need it, or can you do without it?--It also builds in a cushion of time to deflate your impulsiveness and arouse your rational mind.
5. No Future Planning. Many young couples tend to be poor at saving money, and lack of money in an emergency can lead to stress in time of an unforeseen situation. Plan for the future - make sure you have an emergency fund in case of bad times, and at the same time, save up for your retirements. It's easy to assume that your life will continue to be the same for years to come, but bear in mind that it can be better for you and your marriage if you plan for a time when you can't count on your current income.
While money talk has earned a reputation for being a romance-killer, the opposite tends to be true. Couples who are on the same page financially feel more secure, thus eliminating unwanted tension and providing more space for loving. So sit down with your partner and make sure your relationship or marriage is on solid ground, both financially and romantically.