Love And Money

By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 5, 2006

Here's a universal truth about your money and your man: Money may not buy love, but fighting about it will bankrupt your relationship.

How is it that people can proclaim to love one another, sleep with each other, and even have children together, yet they won't do what it takes to stop fighting about money?

I know why.

And deep down, you know why, too.

Couples fight about money because they have "issues."

Perhaps your husband was overindulged as a child. As an adult, he feels entitled to the best this world has to offer, regardless of whether he earns enough to pay for it all. Or maybe your boyfriend grew up not having much of anything and now worries all the time about having enough. The result is that he's so frustratingly frugal that when he pinches a penny, he dents it.

It's the lack of communication and compromise that torpedoes relationships, not a lack of money. Many couples think that if they made more money, their financial issues would go away. They wouldn't. The problems would just become more expensive.

Once you move past the dating phase and decide to marry, it's time to change your financial relationship with your boyfriend. It's time to be as open with him about your money as you have been with your heart -- and everything else, for that matter.

This week and next I'm going to take you through key points in relationships where you should stop and ask yourself some serious financial questions. This week we'll look at the beginnings; next week, I'll have advice and information for unhappier times, when, despite all good intentions, marriage is on the rocks and divorce looms.

* * *

Once you get engaged, come clean about everything financial -- your credit history, debt load, income, retirement plans. Discuss everything. It's vital that you exchange your views and values about money before you exchange wedding vows.

I know discussing money isn't always easy. Here's what happened to one reader who tried to talk to her boyfriend about their financial differences: "My boyfriend and I had a discussion recently about finances during a marriage. We have been dating a significant amount of time and things are getting serious. We're talking about getting married. Well, we found we have very different points of view on finances. My concern is that he became very upset that I felt differently from him and refused to compromise. Are these deep-seated beliefs able to be changed?"

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