John was in his second year in the university. He was a fun loving guy yet responsible. He loved spending time with friends and enjoying his life.
One day John was appointed the head of a study group. He was to work with the small group of 10 and make a presentation in the class on behalf of the group.
He noticed Anne during the group discussions. They had been in the same class since first year and he had been seeing her around, but this was the first time that he really took note of her.
She was beautiful and very focused in her work. She did her assignments well and made very comprehensive contributions in the group. She stood out from the rest of the group.
John and Anne started talking and within months they were dating. They got married months after their graduation. It was a dream come true as they started their lives together as husband and wife.
Conflicts started very early in marriage. John was supporting his parents who were retired and living in the village. There was no proper structure for that support.
Demands came in haphazardly; a cow died and would need to be replaced, it was planting season and farming inputs were required, some repairs needed to be done on the house and much more. John was also paying school fees for two younger siblings; one at the university and another one in high school.
Anne and John had never discussed about the extended family. Anne’s family was independent since her parents operated their own businesses. She had never thought of a situation where she would feel helpless in her own home, not able to make plans and work through the plans.
John was forever in financial crisis. He was also very sensitive about the topic of money. It was as if he knew that Anne did not approve of the way he seemed completely owned by his family such that he could not even choose what to do with his money.
Life for John revolved around job and paying bills. It was like he lived in crisis mode. Anne tried to bring up the issue of finances but John was always very sensitive and defensive so any attempt to discuss money matters always degenerated into an argument.
Both of them had good jobs but they could not even plan long term for their family because John would not open up about his obligations and how they could plan for the available resources.
Anne joined a microfinance and started saving every month. She also joined an investment group (chama) made up of 15 ladies.
Two Strangers under the same Roof
John and Anne were now walking on different roads. They were strangers as far as money matters were concerned. By the time the couple’s 3 children were in high school, John and Anne’s marriage was falling apart. There was no communication between them.
John was facing major financial crisis and a court cases was looming because of money deals that had gone sour. The couple was living like two strangers in the same house and they had very little in common.
Money is one of the major causes of conflict in marriages. Many young people fall in love and decide to get married. They have unrealistic expectations about marriage, expecting love to take care of everything.
Money matters need to be discussed early in the relationship, when the couple is dating. In fact if the two cannot see eye to eye about money, that is a red flag. The relationship is unlikely to succeed long term.
So, what are some of the money matters that a couple should discuss preferably during courtship?
1. Beliefs About Money
Money is a topic that is not taught in school. Most of what we believe about money was passed on to us by our parents, from a very young age. We mainly learn about money through upbringing.
I learned about money largely from my mother. She believed in planning long term and securing the future of the family. I learned about delaying gratification from her.
Two people from different backgrounds meet and fall in love. Their beliefs about money could be as different as the north pole and the south pole. These beliefs need to be discussed during courtship otherwise conflicting belief systems can bring down the marriage.
2. Financial Goals
Do you share similar goals? Does one of you think that money is evil and desiring riches is sinful, while the other one desires to become wealthy?
It is very difficult to drive together in the same vehicle if you are heading to two different directions. If becoming financially free is an important goal for you while your partner believes that money is not important and getting rich is evil, it is going to be really difficult to walk together long term.
Discuss your financial goals early in the relationship and find common ground.
3. Liabilities and Responsibilities Beyond the Immediate Family
Are you getting married to someone who is up to his neck in debts and responsibilities? Will you be able to meet your obligations as a family if your spouse has no money left after paying debts and meeting obligations outside the nuclear family?
How will you take care of your responsibilities as a family? Are you prepared to take on liabilities that might have nothing to do with you?
4. Roles And Responsibilities
Will you take care of responsibilities jointly or will you split them? How will you share out the responsibilities? Will you operate a joint account or separate accounts?
I come across many women who feel taken advantage of because they spent years taking care of the day to day needs of the family from paying the house help to shopping for groceries and taking care of the children’s needs while their husbands took care of bigger needs such as investments.
By the time they were getting into retirement, the wives had nothing to show for their years of toil and labour.
It is important to take into consideration all the financial needs of the family and plan jointly for them. Some expenses might seem insignificant yet they total up to substantial amounts in the long run.
5. Development and Retirement
The cost of living is constantly going up. A family’s needs are also constantly growing. You start out being the two of you and as time goes by children join the family. The children grow and with growth comes increased needs such as school fees and university fees as well as need for a bigger house.
And as the family grows, you find yourself requiring a bigger house than the one you started out in. Plan how you are going to grow your income over the years and how you are going to be financially stable beyond retirement.
Are you going to pursue formal employment only or will you diversify? For most people, retirement turns out to be the most stressful phase of their lives.
It suddenly dawns on them that they cannot sustain their lifestyle and many end up becoming a burden to other people, in most cases their adult children.
Couples who anticipate changes in expenditures over the years and plan early for them are likely to enjoy a more fulfilling relationship and to be happy long term.
Money can either make or break your marriage so discuss it comprehensively before you embark on married life. Prepare well and your journey shall be smooth. Fail to prepare and chances of success will be slim.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter For further information, visit the website: http: www.susancatherineketer.com Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/Financial.Literacy.Africa/?pnref=lhc
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