Dealing With Your Financial Future
- Saturday, August 23, 2003
It's easy to forget that money matters. When a couple meets, grows closer to one another, and falls in love, the idea that money can affect your long term happiness seems almost antithetical to the idea of a happy relationship. In fact, we have countless popular songs and movies telling us that money shouldn't matter. However, as you and your partner form a lasting relationship, you're going to have to deal with the financial obligations and obstacles that try even the most affluent couple. How you prepare for these events can lay the foundation for true romantic success.
What Are Your Expectations?
The number of stressful factors surrounding a relationship form the gap between expectations and reality. Nowhere is this more true than when dealing with financial matters. Therefore, as you and your mate grow closer to one another and as your relationship becomes more serious, you need to make sure as your relationship grows that your goals are in sync. It's important to discuss not only your financial reality, but also what your personal goals are for the future.
Ask each other what you want, what is important in the future. Do you want to travel? Is it important that you acquire savings? When you're married, do you want to own a home? Are you concerned about retirement? Make sure to be honest and discuss your expectations fully and frankly. You can work through differences of this nature if they're discussed early on, but it's harder to deal with such matters if they come as a surprise to you or to your partner. Once the two of you know what you want, you can work together to make these goals a reality.
Who Will Pay For What?
Once you've determines what your goals and expectations are, it's equally important to make sure that you and your partner are comfortable assuming responsibility for making these goals happen. Early on in a relationship, it's easy to let the fun and excitement of falling in love carry you through the entire experience, but being in a relationship is as much a partnership as it is a romance. And as with any partnership, money issues can lead to trust issues. This can cause irreparable damage.
By deciding in advance what your roles will be in reaching your hopes and expectations, you have already staved off emotional power struggles that can sabotage the building of a successful relationship. When you inevitably have to deal with difficult financial times, you'll be able to deal with them equally and without the confusion that can lead to resentment.
Of course, the habits you have can play an important role in your being able to meet your expectations in a relationship and deal effectively with your partner when it comes time to distribute financial responsibility. If you haven't already, learn to budget yourself, to set financial limits, and to stick to them. Try to avoid going into debt unless absolutely necessary.
The important thing is to remember that "Happily Ever After" doesn't begin when you fall in love, or even with the words "I do." It begins as you and your partner learn the skills that make a relationship work, including money management and financial cooperation. Set yourself up for living "Happily Ever After" by making the right decisions early, while you're still forming your lasting relationship.
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