Chris Hull knows a thing or two about making marriage work. He and his wife Diane have been married for 33 years.
Hull didn’t discuss finances with his wife much before they tied the knot, but he said they were blessed that not having the conversation hasn’t hurt their marriage.
“We learned by trial and error,” he said. “There were definitely some challenges.”
However, when it comes to other couples, Hull said discussing finances is important before they say “I do.”
“If the conversation is tough, you will probably more than likely have a communication issue,” he said. “You want to know what you’re working with.”
Pastor Alfred Weems of Eastern Star Church, who married six months ago, has been seeing couples for 18 years. He said it is his job to show couples why they should evaluate their reasons for getting married, and then give them the tools to help make their marriage successful.
Although statistics vary, finances rank at the top of lists of reasons why couples divorce. It is common for couples to find counseling unnecessary before they marry, but seeking financial counseling in addition to discussing other issues prior to marriage can prevent things from going sour later in a relationship.
“No matter how much money you make, things will get tight as you make the adjustment,” Weems said.
Weems uses some tools in counseling such as prescribing couples to what he calls a “$5 date.” Theoretically, with no gas in the car on a Saturday night, Weems challenges the couple to have a good time with $5 to their name.
“It creates the tension that sometimes comes about in marriage,” Weems said.
Indianapolis resident James S. Poore II, a McDonald’s owner and operator and member of Eastern Star church, said there are several points to cover when discussing finances. Couples should first find out where they currently stand financially. Where does each partner want to be in three years? Would they like to buy certain things or travel? Also, establish goals such as retiring debt, saving and investing in a 401(k).
“There is no his debt, her debt; it’s our debt,” Poore said. “So few people have learned anything of finances other than from the school of hard knocks. Bad financial decisions can drag you down from your goals.”