Money Matters Key to Marriage Success

The New York Times claims that money matters are the key to wedded bliss in an article published last week. Consider a few quotes I found interesting:

Marrying a person who shares your attitudes about money might just be the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, when it comes to finances, your marriage is likely to be your most valuable asset — or your largest liability.

Today, while most of us marry for romantic reasons, marriage at its core is still a financial union. So much of what we want — or don’t want — out of life boils down to dollars and cents, whether it’s how hard we choose to work, how much we consume or how much we save.

A lot of the debates people have about money are code for how we want to live our lives.

The rest of the article gives tips on how to get and stay on the same financial page as a couple, but they’re pretty much the same old “talk about your goals,” “enjoy responsibly,” and “maintain some independence” tips.

I think financial compatibility is either there or it’s not in many cases. If you are fighting a lot about “money” in actuality you are probably are disagreeing about goals, values, and priorities which can be a difficult mountain to overcome.

After reading this article it inspired me to write one of my own called “Financial Relationship Deal Breakers.” What do you think are important financial elements to take into account when choosing a lifelong partner? Or do you think it matters at all?

More from Meg at The World of Wealth

15 thoughts on “Money Matters Key to Marriage Success”

  1. You have to be able to trust your partner. If you don’t trust your partner enough to jointly hold bank accounts, I suspect you are with the wrong person. I think it’s pretty important for both partners to have the same idea of value. A wasteful person is not a good match for someone who has a sense of value.

    One thing I noticed among people I’ve known is that many of them who are loose with money are loose in other ways as well. It makes me think there’s a connection between valuing oneself and one’s belongings, valuing money, and appreciation and gratitude.

  2. Met Mr. Wonderful in college–knew then he wasn’t much of a saver.

    He continued to not be much of a saver even after his first job. He financed his electronics, furniture, etc w/ a finance co at an outrageous interest rate (and had student loan debt from his MBA)

    He financed my engagement ring…but paid it off by our wedding if I remember correctly. It was on sale, but it suited my taste. Win-win situation!

    We bought our home within 2 years of marriage w/10% down. Got rid of PMI as quickly as we could.

    We’ve never paid interest on a credit card. One time we had an NSF fee b/c of an atm that didn’t get in the check register (back in the 90s!!) I’ve broken him of incurring fees from using atm’s at other banks.

    He’s still not a great saver (outside of 401ks) …but I’ve managed our finances since 1990 (year we were married) and he’s more than ok w/that.

    Now 18 years later: he has earned his law degree to use in his sales/marketing career; I’ve completed my CFP classes; we have 3 boys and a great start on college savings (thanks to me!!))

    He brings home the bacon…and I make it sizzle 🙂
    It works for us! He always knows where we’re at financially since I show him our Microsoft Money check register, net worth, etc. He will never be frugal…Mind you, he’s not out buying expensive clothes or playing golf. He just isn’t the type to track where he spends his cash. I’ve learned from him to have fun and let loose. However, I will ALWAYS cut coupons, do rebates, and clean my own house!

    But you’re right, Meg–if he had had no ambition for furthering his education and wasn’t a hardworker, I’d have kicked his rear to the curb while dating!

  3. @ Yana – I totally agree there is a connection between how you treat money and your possessions and how you value yourself. Someone in chronic debt who spends wildly cannot, in my opinion, be an emotionally healthy person, especially if they also fail to respect their bodies and/or possessions.

  4. It’s all about education. Growing up my parents lived paycheck to paycheck and now I realize that we were a wasteful family. My husband as well as my choice of career paths enlightened me to the importance of financial responsibility, good credit and simply being wise about money. Additionally reading the same financial books enabled us to approach our finances in the same manner. It gave us a shared vision. Therefore I would say don’t give up on true love… you can get her or him to change. I changed 😉

  5. People can change and learn, though. If I’d written off my husband when I met him (and when he was a financial basket case) my life would be much the poorer now. We balance each other out. He’s still a spender, and that’s fine as long as the percentage of paycheque he’s agreed to add to our joint savings every month goes in, and the bills he’s agreed to cover get paid. It’s low maintenance.

    There was another NYT article within the last few days which suggested swapping financial roles every month – if you typically do the investing in the relationship, hand that responsibility to your partner every other month. That made me laugh, knowing that a lot of bloggers would have heart attacks over such a system.

  6. One being a saver and one being a spender would be tough, but communication is still the key to being able to embrace your difference.

  7. This blog post is so true. My second wife had a “what-the-hell” attitude toward spending, while I was a bit of a spendthrift. I almost went bankrupt right before retiring, but I pulled myself out of it. One of the small things that I did to increase cashflow slightly was get a life insurance settlement.

  8. I think the New York Times article is right on. “Marital bliss” is certainly a substantial goal. However, to have the same attitude about money (not necessarily the same spending priorities) provides an important foundation. If you have the same attitudes about money you’ll see that in your partner. You’ll have mutual respect in having goal-setting conversations. You may disagree on priorities but with that mutual respect you have a foundation for coming up with joint priorities and you will have a sense of trust and understanding that will accompany your partner’s priorities. Meg, thanks for sharing.

  9. In times like now, where both the husband and wife agree on finances, priorities and values lead to the kind of lifestyle they want to live. When dealing with money or finances, open communication is the key in marriage.

  10. I married for love and not for money. I could have made money a priority if I wanted a to compromise everything else that counts. It’s fine to make things clear at the start of a marriage. I made it clear from the start with my husband I don’t have much. It was sort of a success test in a way. If he didn’t like it,
    he was free to leave. I was honest. Maybe he respected that. I’ve seen women all around me who get off on men with money and jobs. Were they clear they didn’t have anything so they needed someone with money for security and social acceptance? Or perhaps they were being used for the money they threw around? I’ve seen that too. Even in marriages. What is that saying? I think someone needs to hit them over the head with a hammer to make them understand, that most people are motivated by one thing. Money. I wonder what happens if the money disappears? One good job loss or perhaps a sickness in the family? Business loss? What happens to all the financial understanding then? But what do people understand outside their pocketbooks these days? How can I explain I feel offended when I see women or men digging into our marital situation or other people around me? Perhaps they are comparing. I grow tired of it. I’m getting old enough to say exactly what I think of the whole thing. For whoever is reading this, start with trust. Be honest. Act as friends. Depend on each other. Have faith. Find a good hearted person for a partner or all that accounting won’t mean a thing.

    The Happy Outcast

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