There are certain topics that just make us uncomfortable, whether we have been dating for three weeks or three years. For some it will be discussing politics, especially if you are on opposite sides of the political debate. Perhaps it is religion, what type of church will you go to and do you come from a similar faith tradition? For others it is discussing how much time you spend together. Perhaps the grand daddy of them all though will be having your first conversation about money. This week at Military Crashpad we’ve been focusing on money and how it impacts our relationships. Today we pose this question to our readers, if you’re dating, when should you talk about money with your significant other? Is there an ideal time?
Right Out the Gate
When it comes to dating and talking about money, there are distinct pros and cons to talking about it early in your relationship. One of the advantages is that you will know exactly what your significant other thinks. If they are a saver and you are a spender, you will know that early on and can address it accordingly. Another advantage is that it can create a sense of identity in your relationship. You could find out that you both think similarly on a subject that can be very divisive.
The con of bringing up money early on in a relationship is that many people don’t like to talk about it at all. If you choose to crack open that can of worms you might find that the person you hoped to get to know better is out the door. Think of how many people you know who don’t share about their finances with anyone? So if you are getting ready to go on your 5th date, tread cautiously if you find yourself wanting to ask “tell me how you handle your money?”
Right Before the Altar
Many couples wait to talk about money until right before they choose to get engaged or married. What couples who wait until this point often learn is that the money habits they unconsciously picked up from their families are drastically different. This can lead to conflict later in their relationship, especially when they go through the process of making major decisions like buying a home or paying for college. It is a factor in relationships that most couples don’t think about or discuss. When you consider that many studies suggest arguments about money are the number one predictor of divorce we strongly urge you to have a serious conversation about money well before “till death do us part.”
After You’re Already Married
Believe it or not, many people who are married don’t know how much money their spouse makes. In fact a recent study of 1051 couples (both married and in long term committed relationships) found that 43% of them did not know what their significant other makes. This is often a sign of a lack of communication that goes beyond finances. Talking about money together can increase the strength of a relationship, and makes journeying through a financial crisis much more manageable. If you are married and you haven’t had a real conversation about money, today is the day to have it. Break the silence.
Finding the Right Time for You
The reality is that there are many good ways to answer this question and it depends on your situation. The right time to talk about money when you are dating is when you reach a point of critical trust with a person, where you know you can trust them to have this serious conversation. It puts you in a vulnerable situation and the key question you need to ask yourself is “am I ready to talk through a disagreement? To change my mind? Can our relationship handle this?” If the answer is no, give it a little more time (although too much time before this is a yes and you might have other problems). It is vital that you talk about money with someone you are in a serious relationship with but the timing will be unique for each couple.
How long before you talk about money? When did you first talk with your boyfriend/girlfriend about money?