We have been brainwashed to think that men and women are essentially (except for some fun equipment) the same. There is now proof that men and women are different from each other: Women are smarter than men.
Sure we may have had our doubts. I blame Lucille Ball. Lucy acted dumb on television and in movies compared to her hard-working entrepreneur husband, Ricky. Whether it was Lucy’s naïveté of the “real world” that made her look stupid or her stupidity that made her look naïve, I do not know. Yet looks can be deceiving.
If you study television and film you will find that many innovations in camerawork, comedy, and television were due to her smarts behind the camera. In other words, the reality of which one was smarter was different from the perception. I think that same thing happens with money.
According to a study from Bankrate, Inc., 60 percent of those polled say they would change or delay marriage plans if they found out their future spouse had substantial debt or bad credit. Of those, 69 percent of women find this to be a deal breaker versus 51 percent of the men.
Maybe men aren’t intellectually dumber, maybe lust just takes over, but to ignore your fiancée’s “substantial” debt or bad credit is kinda stupid. Sure there are more important things than money, but money will be a rather significant part of your life and marriage. The amount of money usually isn’t the problem. How each partner deals with it is.
Want to see if your potential mate and you are on the same page? Sit down one weekend and work on your post-marital budget together. The results will be eye-opening (trust me on that). And that assumes you can get your future other-half to sit down long enough to do it.
Do you have to see eye-to-eye on things? I doubt you do on many items in life, why should money be any different. What you need to do is to see if there are any incompatibilities that you will not be able to live with ‘til death do you part.
After your discussion over the budget, consider your long-term financial goals. I suggest each of you come up with your own list of what’s important to you financially and why. Then share the list. Please don’t trash the other person’s dreams. The intent isn’t to make the two of you the same, but to anticipate differences that may cause conflicts in the future.
Don’t ignore the positives of pre-marital counseling. Most pastors demand it and some churches have required courses for the future newlyweds. But those who are non-religious will still gain a lot from pre-marital counseling that covers many areas, not just money.
Many studies put money conflicts as a leading cause of divorce. While I contend that money conflicts are merely symptoms of other problems, they are good indicators for the need to openly communicate those differences. Be smart like a woman. Consider how you’ll get along with your spouse moneywise before you tie the knot.
Gary Silverman holds the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) license and is a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA®). Gary is the founder of Personal Money Planning, a retirement planning and investment advisory firm, and is a Qualified Kingdom Advisor.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.