Money & Relationships: a volatile match

Before the 80’s men traditionally went to work and brought home the paycheck, while women stayed home and looked after the house and the kids.  Today, this is completely unachievable or desired for many.

It is no longer financially feasible for most women to choose ‘stay at home mom’ as a career, and furthermore, women can choose to work and have career success, rather than just be designated to household commitments.

In those earlier times, getting married In Community of Property was the most common practice, but this no longer being a viable option. Divorce means couples married in community of property face sticky, messy divorces through this method. Further, community of property marriages leave both spouses vulnerable to any debts or liabilities the other may incur, especially in the case of insolvency, where both would now be declared as such. These are just some of the reasons for Antenuptial Agreements and Out of Community of Property with Accrual.

The above may not seem particularly relevant to everyday life in general and relationships in particular, but the reality is that joint bank accounts are a thing of the past. The level of transparency that joint bank accounts provided is gone – what’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine. There are roles and responsibilities in terms of the everyday running of the household, and these are often split up according to who earns what, but other than that, each person is usually responsible for their own money matters.

The Danger of Undiscussed Finances
Research has shown that finances are one of the biggest issues couples fight about. Why is this? Well, the danger is that when it comes to personal finances, we don’t address the issue logically – it becomes an emotional discussion very quickly. Another factor is that we all see things differently and have different levels of financial literacy, so we may not always be in agreement on how to deal with financial issues. Sitting down and discussing it doesn’t always lead to resolution.

Tips for Discussing Financial Matters:
Rather than combining or separating all the finances from the get go, try having mine, yours, and ours. This provides just enough autonomy that each of you doesn’t feel dependent on the other, but ‘ours’ also means that you begin working towards a financial future together. It’s not important to commit to one way of thinking forever – reevaluate your financial situation periodically, and if a tweak is in order, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Draw up a budget. We are all different, and one partner may be a spender where one is saver – have a set plan for how to spend your money. Remember that it’s a plan, but don’t freak out if it gets deviated from once in a while. Keep to it as far as possible, but know that life happens.

Invest, invest, invest! Speak to a financial adviser and get help on saving money for your future. If your car breaks down you won’t simply try fix it by hoping for the best; how much more important is your financial future/retirement?

The very most important aspect when it comes to finances is transparency. This includes debts incurred, any financial responsibilities outside of the immediate relationship, and even day-to-day spending. Secrets are the quickest way to cause destruction in a marriage.

Finally, plan for a rainy day. Bad things happen sometimes, so be prepared for them. Have enough saved up that should anything go wrong, you have at least a small respite.

If you and your spouse battle with finances, book a session and let’s explore the emotions and issues behind the finances.

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