The question of financial planning invariably arises as one of the primary issues in couples preparing for marriage. For some couples shared financial planning is a natural progression of their expressed love and commitment to one another. For others shared financial planning is one that is entered into with hesitancy, reluctance and unwillingness. In some instances the pooling of financial resources may become the last frontier of resistance for partners who feel they are giving up their independence. So perhaps couples preparing for marriage ought to reflect on how they might finance their married life together, how they might agree a family budget, how they might financially plan both for stated marriage goals and unforeseen eventualities?
The romantic charm and emotional attraction of two people becoming one in marriage is a concept that is entered into most willingly by couples but the practical realisation of that reality sometimes proves more difficult, particularly in the area of finance. Individuals may have become accustomed since entering the workplace of financially providing for themselves in all aspects of life. And each partner has possibly saved separately as they prepare for their special day. The crunch may come within married life when one partner feels he/she is being asked to account for expenditure of his/her own money. In other words the culture of financial separateness clashes with the culture of sharing. Couples may find the best method of averting this unpleasant scenario is to jointly formulate a financial plan during the time of marriage preparation.
Perhaps what is most important in financial planning for marriage is that both partners freely enter into an agreement that meets the requirements of their special relationship and particular circumstances. This does not mean that each of you is obliged to place all your income or half your income into the shared budget. It does not mean you are obliged to emulate how your parents or your peers financially planned their future. It means essentially that your unique circumstances should indicate to you how you financially want to share your future together. This might entail an understanding that one of you might not become a financial contributor; you might possibly desire to become a homemaker or go back to college. Perhaps you already have childcare responsibilities in the home? Maybe you will continue to hold separate bank accounts and have a shared budget account that you both contribute to? You may decide on a shared savings account? What is most important here is that your financial planning is consensual, and that decisions taken will not erupt into conflict in the future. You might bear in mind that disagreements over money sometimes occur within the best made financial plans. How do you feel you might manage such disagreements so that the essential loving fabric of your relationship is not damaged?
Discuss with your fiancé(e) how you might consensually plan your financial future together? What might become the obstacles to financial agreement for both of you? Discuss how in the future you might minimise financial disagreements within your relationship!
The Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service marriage preparation course, “Marriage – A Journey Not a Destination” offers an extensive series of activities around issues relating to the preparation for marriage. For further information visit:www.accord.ie