What do most couples argue over? Money. In fact, a 2014 survey by Money Magazine found that 70 percent of married couples had more friction over money than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring, and what’s for dinner.
Money can rip a relationship apart. That’s why it’s important for you to learn now about each other’s financial values and attitudes. And it’s best to do that before you are married.
To get you started, answer the two lists of questions below. Financial guru Howard Dayton posed the first list in his book Money and Marriage God’s Way. I had the privilege of contributing to this book and suggested the second list of questions in the chapter on blended families:
Questions regarding your values (Howard Dayton):
- Who is going to be the breadwinner (one or both)?
- If both are breadwinners, how will we care for the children (day care, school, after school, etc.)?
- Are you a hard worker? What career do you want to pursue? What further education will you need?
- What percentage of our income do you want to give? Who do you prefer to give to—church, ministries, the poor and needy, etc.?
- How much of our income do you want to save?
- What is your attitude toward debt? When should we use it? Is paying off debt a very high priority for you?
- Who will handle the bookkeeping and paying the bills? How often should we meet to review our finances?
- How do you see us becoming one with our finances? How should we combine our finances? Is there any sense of “my money” and “your money”? If so, how can we overcome this challenge?
- How will we make financial decisions?
- Who will manage the investments and what is your investment philosophy?
- What are your expectations concerning our lifestyle—what do you want for a home, furniture, cars, clothes, vacations and gifts?
- What do you think we should spend on our wedding?
- What were your parent’s attitudes toward money? How have their attitudes influenced you? What was your previous spouse’s attitude toward money, spending, and saving?
- Do you think my parents or your parents will want to control us by using money? Is there a danger of overdependence on them? If so, how should we deal with this?
- What has your family done for birthdays, Christmas and gift giving? What should we do?
- To what extent should we help if we have needy family members?
- When should our children begin to work and what is your philosophy of giving them allowances?
- Do we both know Jesus Christ as our Savior? If not, what should we do?
- Do we both have a solid understanding of what God says about handling money?
By the way, if your answer to that last question is “No,” pick up a copy of Money and Marriage God’s Way.
Specific questions for pre-stepfamily couples (Ron Deal):
- What are your financial obligations to your ex-spouse (child support, alimony, other)?
- How likely are child support payments to increase or decrease in the future? When will they end? Are you responsible for any additional expenses, such as education, for them?
- When one of us dies, who will receive the assets brought into our marriage? What happens to them when the surviving spouse dies or remarries? What are the financial plans for your children should you die or be unable to work?
- What expectations do you have for me to support your family?
- Who is responsible for the children’s health insurance? If an ex-spouse is unwilling to do their part, how will we handle it?
- Do you have a retirement plan? If so, how much is in it? Is any part of it obligated to a former spouse?
- Do you have any financial commitments to your parents, siblings, or other family members?
- Was your previous spouse a poor money manager? How will we unify our finances?
- How should we use what we receive in child support and alimony? What do we do when we don’t receive scheduled child support?
- Will we both work outside of the home? How will we handle childcare?
- How will we handle the holidays? How do you feel about gift giving?
- Are we comfortable with one checking account or will we have “yours,” “mine,” and “ours”?
- What do we want to teach our children about money? Are “yours” and “my” children used to different spending styles? Will we give allowances and in what amount? How will we resolve differences in spending/saving/allowance practices?
- After the wedding, how do you feel about changing the deeds/titles/beneficiaries to insurance, car titles, house deeds, and wills?
- Since divorce does not eliminate mutually shared debts, how will you remove yourself from these joint debts? (This may be as simple as closing a credit card account or as complex as refinancing a mortgage.)
Questions taken from Money & Marriage God’s Way by Howard Dayton, Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2009. Used with permission.