February is the month of Valentine’s Day and love. A commonly misquoted verse in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”. People often say that money is the root of all evil, but it is the love of money. It is the posture of the heart which determines how we handle money. Does money play a part in whether or not your relationships are successful? You better believe it. In fact, money fights and money problems are the #1 cause of divorce in America today, so this topic deserves our attention. As a more proactive approach, we will be exploring 4 key areas that have been identified as the crucial relationship areas where couples need to have agreement. Whether you are currently in a relationship or looking for one, finding common ground in these 4 areas will help your relationship withstand the stresses that cause other relationships to fail.
1. Financial Agreement – the probability of having a successful marriage skyrockets if the couple has shared, common financial goals that they are working toward. It’s not surprising if one person is a saver and the other is a spender; in fact, that dynamic is common in most relationships. PFA strongly recommends that you have a detailed, in-depth budget that you both agree on to determine how your money is going to be allocated. Every dollar needs to have an assigned, agreed upon purpose. This is known as a written budget. PFA offers a detailed budget tool to assist in getting this put together, email us if you would like a copy. Having monthly, budget conversations with your spouse to review how you plan to allocate your money is also a best practice.
There’s no rule that says your monthly, budget conversation needs to be a stodgy affair! Turn it into a date and make sure to include the three F’s: 1) Food 2) Finances and… 3) Fun!
An additional financial topic needs to be mentioned – financial infidelity. Simply put, financial infidelity is when a partner lies about or hides money from the other partner. Studies have shown that financial infidelity can actually have a more negative impact on a relationship than marital infidelity. Keeping a detailed budget creates transparency over where the money is going. Even more important, strive to have a team mentality with your spouse. Establish shared goals and a financial plan that both parties agree upon.
2. Agreement Over Children – this topic includes: 1) Are we going to have kids? 2) How many are we going to have? 3) How will we raise our kids? Disagreement here is another leading cause for relationship failure in the US. For couples that aren’t married yet, this should be a key piece that gets discussed during premarital counseling.
3. Agreement Over How to Handle In-Laws – in a statement that will surprise no one, families can be stressful. While some relationships with our in-laws can truly be blessings, others may need some proactive guidelines. Henry Cloud wrote a fantastic book called, “Boundaries” that discusses this topic in a very practical manner.
4. Agreement Over Religion – for many people, their spiritual beliefs define how they approach the details and stresses of life. Someone’s belief system is truly what causes their heart to beat and impacts the decisions that they make. Therefore, disagreement in this area can cause a high degree of stress that will impact many, smaller, day-to-day decisions.
There have been other studies that have been conducted over the years that have a material impact on couples staying together over the long haul:
- Waiting until at least age 23 to get married
- Having a household income that is above $50,000 per year
- Both partners have some degree of higher education
- Yale University conducted a study that determined that couples who lived together before marriage have a nearly 80% higher incidence of divorce
Our goal is not to tell you how to live your life with this article, but merely to present some key information that can help you have a relationship that will thrive over the long haul.