Falling in love is simple—or so it seems in retrospect. But sooner or later disagreements crop up, and love becomes a more complicated venture.
Question:: What kinds of financial issues should my fiancé and I discuss before we walk down the aisle?
Suze:: Start by discussing how each of you feels about basic issues of financial responsibility. Will you support each other in adversity? Do you both view any obligations you may have to your respective families in the same way? How do you feel about responsibilities to ex-spouses or children from a former marriage? Who will manage the household bookkeeping?
Be candid about your past and present, and think about the future. Is one of you in debt from credit card bills or student loans? As a couple, what will you do about that? What will happen if one of you gets a job offer that requires a move? How will you decide whose job takes precedence? If you plan to have children, will one of you stay home with them? Are your investment styles in sync?
You may not be in full agreement on every issue before your marriage, but your relationship will be stronger for having talked through your similarities, differences, and concerns.
The way people talk about money—their expressions, tone of voice, or timing—can be as revealing as what they actually say. For most people, talking about money is an intimate and unfamiliar act.
Any number of childhood experiences can create fear or anger about money, any of which can inhibit open discussion and wise management. My advice, once again: Keep talking, calmly and compassionately, until you get all this stuff out in the open.
From the October 2001 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine