Money is hot button topic for a variety of reasons. And personally, being divorced and contemplating a second dance down the aisle used to be daunting.
Once divorced, there’s a measure of control that you regain – and it feels good! Because when you’re going through tough times, there’s the sense that you no longer have control and it is down right scary. By no means am I a control freak, but I am rather structured and I like order.
To that end, I think it’s important to have an open and honest discussion about everything that could be a potential issue in your relationship.
The stuff that causes you to recoil and pull back? Yep – that stuff.
For example, when my ex would lend money to friends without telling me – that would irritate me to no end because he would take money from our main bank account where all the bills were scheduled to be paid via Bill Pay. This meant if money left the account without my knowledge checks were going to be bounced. I was undone.
But one thing I refused to allow divorce to do is change who I am at the core. I’m not the woman that would get pissed and aggravated anymore. My peace of mind feels great and I’ve worked hard at maintaining it.
For that reason, I’m all about being completely honest with myself and my partner, especially when it comes to money. There are things I like when it comes to personal finance and there are things that I would rather give up and allow someone else to manage. I’m sure my future partner will have his own issues that would need to be discussed and that’s why I’d want to lay it all on the table.
Be Brutally Honest About Money
Talk about it openly and honestly. What are you good at? What are you not so good at? What are your fears? What excites you most about your financial future together? If one of you has kids – bring that up. One issue that comes up frequently as a psychotherapist is the issue of how you spend money as a blended family.
Some of this has to do with issues from previous relationships and it’s best to know thyself now and bring it up instead of hoping that love will fix it down the line. Do you spend money on your kids out of guilt for the divorce? Is that an issue in your new relationship? Address it early.
Another example of issues that can cause resentment and derail your relationship – life insurance – how will you handle that? Who will be the beneficiary? Your partner or your children? Then there’s your will. How will you handle that and do you plan to make the creation of the will a joint venture or a secret one? I’ve seen this tear marriages apart because partners make decisions based on their previous marital issues and not their current reality. So it’s best to talk about these things upfront.
This is a big one. Learning to forgive swiftly and often is so key. If things aren’t going well financially, forgive quickly and focus on a solution.
Leave the past where it is. In the past. If your spouse does something reminiscent of your previous partner – gather yourself before you lose it.
And I know this is hard so I don’t say this without acknowledging that some of you want to blow a gasket when your money triggers show up like “hey girl!”
Talk yourself off the ledge that wants you to deep dive into “see, you’re just like <insert ex’s name here>”. Instead, realize that this is a trigger with the potential to derail your marriage.
You should care more about preserving the relationship than you do about being right.
Understand that people make mistakes and frankly, this is really an opportunity to see how your reaction – not their actions – could kill your marriage. Often, it isn’t about the issues in the marriage but how we handle them.
Get solution-focused and you’ll see how this avoids long-standing resentment that festers into thoughts of detaching and leaving the relationship.
What Would You Do Differently In Your Last Marriage? Do That
One thing I’d do differently is get clear on the nitty gritty stuff. Personally, I think it’s easier to get on the same page about a financial plan and day to day spending. What may not be easy is changing the response to an issue, especially when it’s unresolved.
And truthfully, we won’t know until it hits us.
But what you can do is understand that while your feelings are real, it doesn’t make what you feel, reality.
If your husband buys a new flat screen TV without talking to you first, doesn’t mean that you’ll end up penniless and broke because this happened in your previous marriage.
As I said earlier, your response makes the difference. Th negative feelings about the purchase means this is a trigger for you and a conversation is necessary. With yourself (and potentially your therapist) and your partner.
You don’t want your marriage derailed because of a flat screen TV, so acknowledge your feelings and own them while explaining to your partner how you felt. Both of you should do your parts to stay on the same page so that it doesn’t happen again. And if it does – forgive quickly and work on a solution together.
Marriage is such a beautiful partnership. But it requires a labor of love. And I think all too often we enter into it behind bunkers as if we’re enemies, not realizing that we’re on the same team. We don’t hide our fears and secrets from someone on our team. Instead, we share them with the plan to work on it while our partner stands in the gap where you’re weak to make your marriage stronger.