"...for richer or for poorer, til death do us part".
I had a really interesting conversation this weekend on marriage. With so many of my clients in committed, long term partnerships (either married or not), I see a lot of the inner workings of relationships (...or, not workings!).
What is the definition of marriage?
According to the Oxford dictionary, ii is the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.
Let's examine what that word as well.
"Either of a pair of people engaged together in the same activity".
"Either member of a married courple or of an established unmarried couple".
Now I'm only here to shed some light on the partnerships that I see in my day to day job. Some of the largest financial issues come when partners in a committed relationship are NOT ENGAGED TOGETHER IN THE SAME ACTIVITY.
Why am I interested in this? Because the lack of joint partnership creates mistrust, lack of togetherness with respect to life planning, and ultimately money mismanagement.
Here are some red flags that I often see between spouses:
They have no idea how their spouse spends, saves or even how they manage their money.
They have no coordinated plan for either short, or long term goals (think home purchase, retirement planning, budgeting for large expenses).
They have no idea what investments their spouse makes, or has. Not even a ballpark.
They don't know what debts their spouse carries, that isn't jointly held.
There is no coordinated effort around day to day cash flow management, payments for committed expenses, and discretionary spending.
Think two skiis running on separate tracks.
And what is marriage really, but a formal union and social and legal contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally?
Emotionally is how most people approach the idea of, and romanticizing of marriage.
But what has been done to ensure that legally, and economically, your partnership is on solid footing? What CAN be done to ensure that your partnership survives long beyond the honeymoon phase, and to truly respect all aspects of your union?
Ongoing commitment to life planning as a priority instead of an afterthought.
Regular communication and proactive behaviours towards the state of your finances.
Transparency for all things that you might feel shame towards.
Willingness to make small and meaningful changes to improve your stress levels individually, and together.
And finally, acceptance of your partner, for all their missteps and flaws. Without balme or shame.
So that you can live happily, honestly, ever after.