“First comes love, then comes marriage.”
However, what comes after marriage? Aside from the baby in a baby carriage, many couples do not look past the wedding day and all of the planning and hoopla involved to what exactly “happily ever after” entails. Statistics have reported for decades that approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. While these statistics go up and down over the years, the figure remains relatively stable.
The main factors in divorce really come down to just a few: children and family and finances. According to a recent article by Manila.com, many couples overlook the practical aspects of marriage, mainly finances, before they combine everything together as marital property.
In an article by Ron Leiber of the New York Times in 2009, the odds of a marriage ending in divorce due to finances is approximately 45 percent. Many of the reasons behind this high rate are the lack of discussions couples have before they get married regarding their views on finances, what debt they are bringing into the marriage, experience they have with budgets, what they envision their financial future to be, and many more.
Leiber suggested several talking points for couples planning to get married including debt and credit history, who will control the finances once they are married, and what financial goals each partner has.
More recent studies reported by Manila.com show that approximately 65 percent of couples argue about money on a regular basis.
Maitland Greer of Manila.com suggests couples keep the line of communication regarding finances open at all times. Scheduling one-on-one discussions on who will be controlling the checkbook as well as sitting down to talk about the budget and where the family is in terms of finances help alleviate some of the stress put on a marriage. Making sure that these discussions happen consistently is the key to success.
Similarly, full disclosure of what debt each partner brings into the marriage is a necessity. The same study reported by Manila.com done show that women are more likely than men to hide debt from their spouse. One out of 10 women in this survey reported that they had a debt or credit card of which their spouse was not aware.
Communication is key to any successful marriage, so it would follow that communication about assets and debts is key to successful marriages, as well. Remaining honest and open regarding bank account balances, credit card balances, and spending are a necessity for good financial relationships in marriages.
The positive news? Resources are out there for couples who need the help. Credit counseling and pre-marital counseling serve as two reliable ways to open discussions about finances before marriage. Further, Web sites such as Take Charge of America are out there to educate couples on what issues to discuss and what steps to take to ensure that they have success in financial matters once united in marriage. Daveramsey.com, a site by noted financial guru Dave Ramsey also offers resources for couples.