Are You And Your Partner Financially Compatible?
Chances are, if you ask a couple the questions, “What made you fall in love with each other? What keeps your relationship strong?” you will probably never hear the answer, “Our shared money values.” I don’t think so, that sounds too materialistic and unromantic. But the truth is, shared money values is a key element in a successful relationship, especially that of marriage.
In our last article entitled Before “I Do,” we discussed the property the laws governing your marriage, depending on when you got married. If you got married on or after August 3, 1987, you are governed by the Absolute Community of Property. If prior to that, you are governed by the Conjugal Partnership of Gains. (You may read the article to know the difference between the two.)
The importance of Financial Compatibility in a Marriage
After understanding the absoluteness of what you get into upon signing that marriage contract, you realize that financial compatibility is of utmost importance for a marriage to be successful.
You may still argue that hey, I never knew any of those but look I’m happy with my spouse, money is never an issue in our marriage. To that I say, maybe it’s because you never encountered money shortage yet, or other money conflicts, or have never had to consider what’s going to happen if one spouse dies, or if there’s a possibility of separating your assets legally for any reason.
The thing with money is that it’s very much like health. We don’t really bother to think about it until some problems start showing up. And again, just like our health, it’s best to be proactive and start taking care of our financial condition while we’re young and have enough time because chances are when the symptoms start showing, it may already be too late.
What is financial compatibility?
Financial compatibility is not so much about having the same Net Asset Value prior to marriage (although that would be a big help because no one will likely feel shortchanged getting into the Absolute Community of Property). It is more about having similar money habits and common financial goals. It is having the same Financial Belief and Value System.
But are there really two people who share the same money values? The answer to that is pretty much the same as when we’re considering compatibility in the other aspects of a relationship. You don’t have to possess identical ones but fundamentally similar values are important because remember, you two will become one upon marriage. Ask questions like What are your spiritual beliefs? What are your core values? Do you like kids? How’s your relationship with your parents? What are your goals in life? What kind of life do you want to live in? What do you stand for? In the US, the answer to the question, “Are you a Republican or Democrat?” could be a deal-breaker in a marriage. At least in our country, we don’t have party loyalty. Maybe the closest we have to that is “Are you a Noranian or Vilmanian?” but that’s too ancient already. The millennials and gen z may say, “Are you with Team Bea or Team Julia?” but this will no longer stick in a few weeks once another bigger controversy comes along. :)
Kidding aside, getting your financial acts together is a must prior to marriage so this is one important aspect you ought to get to more about.
When should you start discussing money as a couple?
They say in dating there are no-no topics on your first date like past relationships, political beliefs, religion, and money. We avoid these because they are too polarizing and too personal. But if you’re already on your nth date and getting interested in one other, I think you have to talk about something else other than the weather and other lame topics. It’s time to talk about the things that matter in building a strong relationship.
Prior to that, keen observation is key. You can see how he/she is in these important aspects of life like spirituality, financial, etc. in the nuances of his/her behavior, how he/she spends time, etc. Do not wait until the proposal before you understand these important matters.
That is why it’s important to attend seminars and workshops on couple compatibility. There are those conducted by different groups like the Discovery Weekend. They make you look deeper beyond your starry eyes and compel you to answer questions honestly and make you understand what you’re getting into. I think the topic of money is also touched in some. For already married couples there are seminars like Beyond I Do. I just don’t know how in-depth the topic of money is dealt with.
My hope is that all would-be spouses ask the million-dollar question, “Are we financially compatible?” If the answer is no and you’re about to get married, pause and work on your differences before you take the plunge. If you’ve been married and the answer is still a no, then please have a heart-to-heart talk to reconcile your differences. Start with your financial goals and make the necessary adjustments. This way, it does not become an attack on the spending habits of the partners but a way to achieve your common goals together.
Lovingly ask your spouse to take the short FQ Test with you now. This will start or enhance your happy FQ journey as a couple. This is also key to raising your children to have high FQ.
Rose Fres Fausto is FQ Mom (FQ stands for Financial Intelligence Quotient). She was an investment banker turned full-time homemaker and now a writer and speaker on money and family. She’s a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Behavioral Economist, having trained under Dan Ariely, the Father of B.E. Richard Thaler, and recently completed a B.E. course at the Harvard Business School. She wrote bestsellers Raising Pinoy Boys, The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions), FQ: The nth Intelligence. She has a weekly column in PhilStar.com and regularly contributes to other magazines.
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AUTHOR BIO Rose Fres Fausto is FQ Mom. FQ stands for Financial Intelligence Quotient. Investment banker turned full-time homemaker, she is now a writer and speaker on money and family.