Building Financial Rhythm in New RelationshipsJul 12, 2022
Summer is here, with the season of weddings, new bonds, and new beginnings in full swing. While recent engagements bring all the wonderful emotions and celebrations, many couples struggle to find the same feelings as they combine finances in new ways. Finding your financial groove with a new partner can be challenging, and discussing topics like splitting bills or a prenup can be daunting. How do you find a balance between the excitement of marriage and the responsibilities of financial planning?
The Two Sides of Marriage: Love and Business
Marriage is a legal commitment between two people that not only announces their love for each other to the world but officially ties their money together forever. Depending on where you live, marriage can mean your spouse shares the same load of responsibility for every dollar of debt and every asset you own from the day you say “I do.” Many couples struggle to navigate the legal side of marriage and the financial expectations that come with it. You can better handle the business side of marriage by openly stating expectations and building healthy communication rhythms. This, in turn, builds trust and integrity in the relationship. When you have a foundation of healthy rhythms, you and your partner can work together in both the love and business side of marriage as a team.
Building a Balance of Honoring Both Sides
Marriage is a continuous practice of honoring both the emotional and logistical sides of your relationship. Balancing both love and business. Finding a way to honor both sides is essential, especially for new relationships and marriages. But how do you honor both love and business in practice?
Many couples who consider the business side of a relationship, like finances, debt, and assets, struggle to find a way to talk openly with their partner. Many who consider a prenup struggle to find a way to communicate without fear of conflict. Rather than focusing on the fear of conflict, see it as an opportunity to build financial intimacy, safety, and security which ultimately makes you less likely to need the agreement. The key is to find a way to soften and honor both sides. If you’re considering a prenup, how can you lovingly approach your partner? If you’re concerned about how you’ll split financial responsibilities, how can you discuss it with your partner compassionately?
From a business/legal perspective, a prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a prenup, is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all of the property each person owns and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage. Did you know that each state already has prenuptial agreements in place for couples. Essentially, the marital property division law for your State dictates how property will be divided following a divorce. For example, California is a community property State, meaning that property and assets acquired during a marriage are jointly owned by both spouses, regardless of who purchased it or whose name is on the title.
From a love perspective, a prenup is a financial empowerment tool for couples to talk about assets and debts, money management, inherited assets, and property distribution. These discussions build financial intimacy. A prenup allows each person to bring awareness to their money story as well as be assertive around ones needs or ideals. It can and should be seen as a preventative tool in reducing future conflict by building safety and security early in the relationship. Reasonably, each partner may have different views, experiences, and perspectives about a prenup but those conversations are part of building your money story together.
Building New Rhythms
Finances can be a major stressor for new couples, especially as they face new challenges and levels of combined finances. How you talk with your partner about money sets the tone for how well you can face challenges together as a couple. Communication is the best way to start building a healthy financial rhythm. Do you take a breath or pause before responding to your partner? Can you create a regular time to sit down and discuss money goals together when you’re both in a good mindset? Do you make a habit of discussing not only the problems but also the dreams?
You can start building better financial rhythms with your partner to cope with stress by:
- Setting a monthly money date together. Pick a time when you and your partner are in a good mindset and can practice talking about money in a positive, healthy way together. Often, we get stuck talking to our partners about what goes wrong with money. To build a better rhythm, intentionally set a regular time to build a better financial future together.
- Openly discuss financial expectations. Before you get married or take the next financial step together, get on the same page with your partner about their financial expectations. How do you split bills? What does each partner bring to the table regarding debt, assets, and financial obligations? Having open discussions now can prevent painful financial stress in your relationship down the road.
- Discuss your thoughts about a prenuptial agreement. Whether you have preconceived thoughts about a prenuptial agreement, it is a good idea to discuss it and get your partner's view. Here are a few ways to engage with your partner. Ask open ended questions such as, what are your thoughts on prenuptial agreements? Do you know anyone who has a prenuptial agreement? How has it worked for them? Or, utilize a third party, like a financial therapist to help facilitate what can be sensitive conversations.
- Get curious about your partner’s money story. We often get frustrated with our partners, not understanding why they make the financial choices they do. We want them to act more like us or think more like we do. If you can instead get curious about your partner’s relationship with money, you can better understand their motives. The better you understand your partner, the easier it will be to build rhythms together and handle financial stress as a team.
- Play to each other’s strengths. If one partner is fantastic with details and numbers, they’ll likely have an eye for taxes and spreadsheets. If the other is great at high-level planning, use those gifts to build a better financial plan together. You can handle money better as a team when you can share responsibilities by playing to each other’s strengths.
Download my Prenup Checklist for more practical ways to discuss a prenup with your partner and balance both love and business in your relationship.
Or, if considering a prenuptial agreement, check out my premarital bundle to help you along your way.
I have also linked my Mini Premarital Checklist for creating financial intimacy in your relationship.
Photo by Jopwell
Questions: email [email protected]
Mariah Hudler, MSW, MBA, CFT-I™ is a financial therapist, coach & consultant, who provides premarital financial counseling, financial therapy, financial coaching & consulting, and financial wellbeing services. She works with individuals, couples, entrepreneurs, and groups to build their balance and create a healthy relationship with money.
Disclaimer: This blog is for education only. Please consult with a qualified professional when you have any questions about your personal financial, tax, or legal situation. Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional advice.
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