Emotional baggage is usually on the radar of couples entering into a relationship. Our quirks, habits, battle scars from past experiences have taken their toll. But what about financial baggage? Are you carrying a heavy financial load? Do you know if your sweetie is? Are you both being honest and open about your debt, spending habits, financial stability? If money problems are weighing either of you down and you’re not coming clean, sooner or later those bags will burst, affecting your relationship. They could even destroy it.
Practicing Full Disclosure
We all have issues from time to time that can be traced back to finances. The last thing we need is to be blindsided by our partner’s problems because we haven’t taken the time to enter into a discussion with them about where we stand financially.
Likewise, if you’ve been wrecking your credit rating from bad money decisions, have a bankruptcy on your record, have a gambling problem, maxed out your credit cards … your mate needs to be made aware of it. If you’re married or living together, your financial problems become entangled with his and vice versa.
Are You Monetarily Compatible?
Your attitudes about money and spending habits are an important part of the relationship, factoring into how compatible you are as a couple. Are you more of a “tightwad”? Is he a “shopaholic”? How do you each feel that will affect the relationship? Are you willing to make changes or concessions?
Keeping Financial Secrets
Are you committing financial infidelity? Keeping financial secrets is just as bad as cheating on your mate. If you’re lying about your debt, certain high-ticket purchases, income, or overall financial worth, these problems have a lot in common with having an undisclosed mistress. You may think that keeping quiet about your troubles is protecting your mate when the opposite is most likely the case.
- Lying about your income. Giving the impression you have enough money to keep both of you living the lifestyle you agreed you want and then finding out that’s not the case is a bitter pill to swallow.
- Hiding financial information. Are you keeping a separate post office box or bank account to hide purchases or debt notices from your partner? It’s going to come out eventually and it won’t be pretty.
- Problems managing money. Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Are creditors calling? Are you having trouble making the mortgage payments and fear foreclosure? Sweeping these problems under the rug won’t make them go away.
- Gambling or shopping problem. A psychological issue like alcoholism, having a gambling problem can be a tough monkey to shake off your back. You need help and you need to tell your mate.
Misstating or not revealing your financial situation is a form of deception. Whether you or he sees it that way, it can be heartbreaking and generate feelings of anger, hurt, animosity, loss of trust … those elements that are so destructive to a relationship.
Financial Planning First
If you’re not married and are considering marriage, financial planning might best be discussed before wedding planning. Youth may give you time to recover and have a financial “reset” so take advantage of your young age. Collaborate on how you’re going to get back on track.
For older couples entering a relationship who are closer to retirement, addressing short and long-term financial goals becomes more and more important. Is his retirement plan going to be enough to let you both stay on your retirement track? Will your risky investments affect your mate? Are you in trouble over taxes? Will certain events require you to put off your retirement date, take on a second job? Are health issues eating away at your disposable income and savings?
Sharing the Load
Financial baggage is too heavy a load for only one of you to bare. Being financially open is just as important as being emotionally open. Relationship counseling is just as important as financial counseling. Saving your relationship is just as important as saving your money. Be proactive. Lay your cards out on the table. Sweethearts share financial burdens and can work together to find solutions.