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Financial things to know about your partner before marriage

Married individuals are partners on many different levels. This includes the financial level, as the financial actions of one spouse can have significant implications on the other. A spouse could feel the financial effects of the actions of their partner for a long time; sometimes, such effects even end up outlasting the marriage. For while divorce property division has big impacts on a person's post-divorce financial state, so too does what financial ramifications a spouse's actions had on the marital estate during the marriage.

So, when considering marriage, it can be important for a person to think about whether their partner would be a good financial partner. For, how things go financially for a married couple can not only have monetary impacts, but also impacts on how much stress is within the marriage.

There are a variety of things it can be important to know finance-wise about one's partner before marriage including:

  • How open they are with you about their finances. Financial openness within a marriage is key. Financial secrecy by one spouse towards the other can lead to trust issues and the possibility of unpleasant financial surprises arising down the line. It also could raise concerns that, if the marriage were to someday end in divorce, the efforts towards secrecy might continue and one spouse may try to hide assets from the other.
  • How controlling they are financially. When one partner is overly controlling financially, it can make having an equal financial partnership within a marriage near-impossible, which could create significant marital tension.
  • What their financial personality is. Everyone approaches finances in their own way. For example, some people tend to be spenders, while others are savers. And just as compatibility is important for married couples when it comes to general personality, so too is it for financial personality. Incompatible financial approaches by spouses can be ripe grounds for marital conflict.

The importance of being financially knowledgeable of one's spouse is among the reasons why discussing finances before getting married can be so key for a couple. Such discussions can help a couple learn about each other's financial characteristics, spot potential financial incompatibilities early and work to find ways to address such incompatibilities before they would have a chance to cause problems.

Source: Forbes, "Your Worst Financial Problem Might Share Your Name," Paul Wannemacher, Feb. 7, 2016

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