September 14th, 2007 by Nina Atwood
If there’s one thing that tougher to talk about than sex (that’s talk about, not do), it’s money! The top two reasons that couples divorce are often cited as sex and money. So why is it so difficult to discuss?
In dating, talking about your net worth - if it is high - can be risky. If you haven’t yet built a trusted connection, you may find yourself targeted by someone seeking to take advantage. If your net worth is low, you may find yourself rejected by someone who is seeking a person of equitable means.
If you have a moderate to high net worth, you may not want to marry someone who is deeply in debt and struggling financially. You take on those liabilities when you do. So, you naturally want to know as much as possible about someone’s financial standing before you get in too deep emotionally.
There’s the conflict: you need to know, yet you don’t want to tell, at least not too early in the relationship. And when is too early? The reality is that it’s all a huge judgment call. The trick is knowing when to show your cards, when to hold them back, and when to ask the other person to show his/her cards.
Here’s what doesn’t work: falling madly in love, moving down the path toward marriage, and waiting until a couple of weeks before the wedding to bring up the subject of personal finances. That’s a disaster in the making, mainly because you’ve neglected the practice of discussing money, something that couples need to be very good at in order to manage finances in marriage.
One way to handle it is to cover the subject in broad brush strokes early in the relationship. The timing – as soon as you realize there are some serious sparks flying and your conversations are moving toward commitment. Bring up the subject in words such as these: “I want you to know that I’m really enjoying our relationship so far. As you know, I’m not in this for fun and games. I’m seeking someone to share my life with. We don’t know yet if we’re right for each other, but while we’re exploring that, I think it’s imortant to talk about some basics. Financially, I’d like us to give very broad brushstrokes about where we stand: debt and retirement savings primarily.”
Will this be an easy conversation? No. Will it pave the way to an open, honest relationship in which no subjects are taboo? Absolutely.