As I stare at the white screen of my laptop, wondering how to start this piece. The question that wrote itself on the blank page of my mind is ‘Have you completely cracked the code of financial planning for couples after precisely 17years of marriage? My answer to that is no. But I can tell you a few thoughts that has worked and I believe with a little bit of tweak can work for you too.
Marriage comes with its own challenges and when you now add the issues of money the challenges seem to assume geometric progression. But it was not meant to be so if couple can reduce the tensions generated by all the guilt inducing advertising campaign of the festive seasons that make us desire things even when we are aware that these things may hurt our financial future.
My new interest in the issue of money and marriage was triggered by my finding of January as the ‘Divorce Month’ and the desire to reduces the number of divorce next month by helping couple wade through the financial pressures of the season that exasperate the frictions that may likely lead to marriage breakages.
These are just a few understanding that has helped us. Like I said we are not there yet but we are working at it with understanding and compromise. There are two things to always bear in mind when considering the issue of finance and marriage. One; Men and women often come to issue of finance management from different perspectives. Two; there is need for compromise and understanding from both parties.
Men should understand that women attach emotion to everything including money. It is not out of place for a man to say ‘we cannot afford that now’ and the woman may be hearing ‘he doesn’t even love me enough to buy that for me’. So it is important to come to an understanding of why it is better to postpone that purchase or trip to another time. Simply put the couple must be on the same page, it is not a piece of cake but with a common goal in view it is much easier.
Others things to consider include the following facts;
- Women live longer but earn more than 20% less than their male counterparts. This already creates a feeling of financial disadvantage and this will always creep into financial discussions and decisions. Helping her save towards retirement and ensuring you have adequate financial plan for her gives her that feeling of security and assurance that she will not be stranded financially in the future.
- Women think of money more as covering for their family. That’s why a woman will usually not made demands without including the children. And of course you know as a man that you are the first child in the house. Helping her to see the plan you have for the family will help keep her mind at rest. My mentor once told me that all that you require to keep your spouse happy is an assurance of financial security. Women are good at sacrificing if you convince them of the need to and you are not fooling around. She is encouraged to share her money with other members of the family
- I also found out that women are often intimidated by investing. This I think has more of a cultural background of girl being forbidden from taking risks, while a boy is not a boy if he does not take risks. Investing requires some basic and in-depth knowledge to ensure you don’t lose money. Investing for your spouse is one side of the coin; this has worked well for me. But encouraging and teaching her to invest is equally very important. The day your spouse start asking you where to invest, is the beginning of a better financial future for the family because women generally have basic instincts that can help guide your investment decisions. When she says ‘I just don’t feel right about our investing in that’ please listen to her.
The aforesaid are by no means exhaustive, but being guided by the understanding shared could just help to reduce the number of people that will be asking for divorce in January or any other month of the year for that matter.
I directed my thoughts mainly to men because the bulk stops at your table. The success or failure of a marriage depends to a large extent on the man. Planning together first without money then when everybody is excited about the goals, then bring in the cost implications and the necessary adjustment that may be required to accomplish the goals. Remember festive season will come and go, please don’t allow financial pressures of the seasons and other times turn your marriage into part of the statistics; rather take charge of your finances and make yours one of the success stories.
In conclusion, the person you need to become for you to succeed is more important than the money and the financial issues. That is why financial literacy is not just about money but about attitudes, knowledge and behavioural changes. An anonymous quote puts it thus; “The most important factor in achieving great financial success and wealth (including marital success) is not the money. It is the kind of person you need to become ….. to earn that money and then hold it”
Financial literacy can save Marriages – Yours First!