If you're reading this, there is a good chance you are preparing for a wedding or know someone who is… so congratulations!
Managing your home and money as a couple dramatically impacts your happiness. And you must establish healthy relationship habits in the first six months of your marriage.
As a matter of fact, "Patterns set up in the first six months of marriage are the patterns most likely to be maintained throughout the marriage." This is according to Dr. Perry Jenkins, a recent guest on the Modern Husbands podcast, whose research was recently highlighted in the Harvard Business Review and Washington Post. You can see a 40-second preview of the podcast in this short clip.
When the bliss of a perfect relationship subsides, the practical responsibilities of living together remain.
The world of work and marriage has changed from what your parents and grandparents experienced. Dual-income households are the norm in the United States. And among American households, 38% now include females as the breadwinner.
Said differently, think carefully about how you and your spouse will work together in marriage. Women are breaking through the glass ceiling in the 21st-century world of work, and that success is tough to build on in 20th-century marriage.
Many men are conditioned to believe that their primary responsibility is to "bring home the bacon." The role of a modern husband has evolved far beyond that, mainly when that's not the case in 2 of 5 households. We know from recent research that it's not that important anymore, at least in relationships that include successful women in the workforce.
What has been learned over time is that women also need to be loved and supported in the home in ways that liberate them from 20th-century homemaking and money management responsibilities. And the evolution of marriage has led to happier marriages.
We know from research conducted by the University of Cambridge that many men are happiest when contributing equally to household chores. After all, modern marriage is most often a partnership between two working spouses who work together to manage money and the home.
In other words, take the time to carefully consider all the tasks necessary to manage a home, divide the tasks thoughtfully and fairly – and do this within the first six months of marriage.
Talking about money is harder for some than talking about religion and sex. This is not hyperbole. It is a fact.
Everyone has their own relationship with money formed from childhood. Some have experienced financial trauma, while others grapple with the shame and guilt of financial mistakes or debt. Managing these feelings yourself is tough; doing so with a spouse feels almost impossible for others.
Nonetheless, being open and honest with your spouse about money is crucial. Your relationship may depend on it.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), "Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007… and that stress related to financial issues could significantly impact Americans' health and well-being."
Money is also a leading cited reason for divorce.
I have three children and already know what a wedding gift will be for them. I will purchase them and their spouses a one-time exhaustive meeting with a fee-based certified financial planner, and here is why.
A certified financial planner (CFP) will serve as an intermediary, guiding tough money conversations with a future spouse. These meetings require spouses to bring all their financial information to determine how they want to live through marriage so a financial plan can be built accordingly.
An obvious benefit is a financial plan. More importantly, it gets spouses talking openly about their dreams and how they can pay for them. It flushes out past debts or problems with money, and the conversation is guided by a professional who can help couples work through the emotions or disagreements that may arise.
Couples with deep-rooted financial problems or trauma can turn to a financial therapist, who is trained to manage the toughest conversations spouses have about finances.
Selecting the right financial planner matters, and it matters a lot. A certified financial planner is legally bound to put your best interests ahead of your own. This is only sometimes the case, so research before choosing one.
You can read more details about how to research financial planners and 20 more helpful tips for living a happy marriage together by reading 21 marriage tips after 21 years of marriage.