On to the next four questions to discuss prior to getting married.
4. Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us? If there is an ex-spouse in the picture, or your fiancee is co-parenting with someone else, how will this impact you you? Research indicates that contentious relationships with exes can pose a risk for divorce and lower marital quality for subsequent marriages. There can also be issues of jealousy related to partners having had a life before us. How much or how little do you want to know about your partners relationships prior to you? What will you do with information once you have it? What about remaining friends with exes? What if an ex is harassing/intrusive in your current relationship? What if your future in-laws remain fond of and connected to an ex? What are the boundaries around these concerns?
5. How important is religion? How will we celebrate religious holidays, if at all? If two people come from different religious backgrounds, is each going to pursue his or her own religious affiliation? If you have children, how will respective religious traditions be honored?
6. Is my debt your debt? Would you be willing to bail me out? Disclosing all debt prior to marriage is very important. How will you navigate paying down debt, and accruing more debt after marriage? It’s also important to know how your partner feels about financial self-sufficiency and whether he or she expects you to keep your resources separate or joined. If there is a serious discrepancy between your income and your partner’s, how will this effect your budget? Will contributions be equal or proportional to each person’s income. How do you feel about saving versus spending? Who will handle bill payment?
7. What’s the most you would be willing to spend on a car, a couch, shoes? Couples should know prior to marriage what each person’s values and tolerance for financial risk are. How will big ticket purchases be handled? What about smaller, discretionary spending? How will saving for retirement/future obligations be weighed against spending in the present? How good are you at sticking to a budget? How much transparency is expected as it relates to finances? How will decisions be made that could effect the financial picture for the marriage/family, such as one person returning to school, or taking a job that pays substantially less or more than what you have had, or a parent staying home once children are born. If assets are brought to the marriage, is a pre-nup warranted?
Until next time, peace.