Getting Married? Don't Say 'I Do' Without Having The Money Talk

Love, Heartbreak

Are you being honest with your feelings when it comes to finances in your relationship?

On the surface, the following scenerio looks like a dream come true. In reality, it's a train wreck waiting to happen. How can one tell during the dating dance which is which?

He impresses her with his late model BMW, takes her to fancy restaurants where the waiters wear long aprons and bow ties, gets box seats for the theater and floor seats for the Lakers. His job title sounds impressive, although she is not very clear exactly what it entails. She does not ask. She is swept away by his gallant manners and thoughtful gifts. She is in love and is relieved that he appears to be stable. After all, she wants children and wants to be home with them.  What she cannot see are his feelings of shame and inadequacy about never being enough. So he will work hard, spend more, live right up to the edge that neither of them can see yet. 

She, on the other hand, went to an Ivy League school. She does marketing for a small company, drives a modest car, lives in a small but charming pre-war building, seems to have a low-key lifestyle and knows she has shame about money. She feels undeserving and that nothing she does is ever good enough. They decide to marry and side-step the pre-marital money chat. She thinks she is safe now; he will provide financial security and they will live the life of luxury while thinking about when to start a family.

He feels he has won the lottery — she is gorgeous, sophisticated and all of the men want her. He loves showing her off and feeling pride in 'ownership' as one could say. She is a 'catch.' He's in love. They start a family and the financial reality starts to kick off as their lives shift, expand and get more complicated. They have expenses they never had before along with diapers, doctors and daycare.

Another child is born two years later, and the cycle continues. 

The irony is that they both have esteem issues played out in the financial arena. They are two sides of the same coin. And when the conflicting wants start, he will be angry and covering up his shame. She will be fearful and covering up her shame.  Same place, two roads intersecting.

How they can begin to fix the conflict: They must talk. Poor communication is the #1 reason couples fight. When people lack the trust to talk, lack the correct words to use, and lack the desire to really preserve what they have built, divorce is not far behind.

Catch the frustration before the telephone calls start about finding a good attorney.


For a free PDF of my book, check out my website, Sign up for my blog/newsletter and send me an e-mail with "TANGO" in the subject line, and we'll send you back the book.

More marriage therapist advice on YourTango:


Explore YourTango