A newly-engaged couple came to me for pre-marital counseling. They had, they explained, already met with their pastor and had gotten a preliminary “thumbs-up,” to the idea of tying the knot. I must admit I laughed out loud when they told me that at their first session with the pastor, they were each required to bring two items: a Bible and a copy of their personal credit reports. After I stopped chuckling, I realized the preacher was on to something. He knew that how we handle our finances says a lot—-good, bad, or ugly- about who we are and how we handle commitment. And that’s no laughing matter.
Like it or not, money really does have meaning and power. How you handle or mishandle it, will speak volumes about you to your present or potential mate, much more persuasively than anything you could every say about yourself. Handling your money with care, discipline, and maturity builds a strong case that you are caring, disciplined, and mature person. Those, of course, are the very character traits that matter most to anyone who is considering (or has already decided) to yoke up with you.
Balance is the key word when it comes to your approach to finances. If you are a man of extremes — either too cautious or too irresponsible—you’ll fearfully hoard it all, or foolishly spend it all, completely obsessed with your bottom line and cash flow; or totally unmoved by your zero balance and past due bills. Either way, you’ll look fiscally dangerous to the one who loves you. They’ll see you as not only a credit risk, but a commitment risk too.
Before you even jump the broom, while your money is your money, your mate doesn’t get to go over your bank statements and your credit report, but he/she does need to know that you are both responsible and motivated enough to take care of business with consistency and balance. He/She will figure that out by what you actually DO with your money, NOT what you say about it.
After vows have been said and rings have been swapped, your money and your mate’s money is “y’alls” money. Now, your money management style will directly affect your spouse’s sense of security (or insecurity).
Give your spending, saving, and paying habits a brutally honest examination. Take steps to get a handle on what’s out of control. For your loved one’s sake, as well as your own, begin to operate in a responsible, consistent manner that he/she can count on.
There’s no getting around it, when you handle your finances sensibly, your mate—married or unmarried—breathes easier and trusts you more fully.