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Poor financial management can wreck a relationship. Finances need to be discussed before marriage. Finances are critical to relationship health.

By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50

Finances are critical to a relationship's health. A woman we will call Unsure--since that's how she signed her email--described how finances are affecting her relationship:


 "I met a great guy, who is nine years older, online 11 months ago. We are engaged. We've kicked around a November wedding date (each has been married twice). We met in June and I moved into his house in December."


They did not have a financial plan or agreement, although they talked about setting up a joint account, but she said there isn't enough left in her paycheck to contribute to it.


Unsure said, "He makes at least twice as much as I do and I have some residual debt from a second marriage and I support my mid-20's daughter. 


"He generally pays for things when we go out and will not allow me to pay though I often offer. He also pays the household expenses (he gave her a credit card to use for these expenses). I pay for all my own expenses. I have very little left over at the end of the month - I was unemployed a bit last year and am also paying back money he lent me."


Unsure said she and the man just came back from a four-day trip where he spent "a great deal of money on wine purchases and other things." She feels he resents having spent so much and has had a sudden change of heart about their relationship--he no longer wants to marry in November. She feels he is concerned about their financial relationship.


Unsure added, "I was pretty surprised. He wants me to cut off my kids and reduce my debt before he will commit to getting married. I see his point and he says he loves me and wants to marry me eventually, but it's giving me a bit of pause as to his true feelings." She is nervous and doesn't like the feeling.


I asked her for more details.


She responded, "It's complicated now; it didn't seem so before. He expressed disappointment that I had not repaid any of my debt and had not given him money towards our joint expenses. I have never felt financially mature/responsible and I want to change that. I definitely spend too much on shopping and eating out (I have stopped THAT completely since he and I spoke)."


I asked Unsure why she supported her daughter. "My daughter is working, but only brings home $800/week. She is spoiled and enabled and I think it's bugging him. I spoke to her today about needing to start paying her own way even if that means a change in lifestyle," she said. 


To top matters off, the man told her she had been secretive about her finances. She proved to him that she had been open about her finances by writing things down and showing him that she hadn't been secretive. He accepted that. 


She said he has been engaged a few times and added, "...the ring is beautiful, rescued from a past engagement of his."


In reviewing this woman's correspondence, I'm not surprised that the man she is engaged to has had a change of heart, but it likely wasn't sudden. He's been evaluating the relationship since she moved in. That he makes double what she makes isn't important; her financial baggage is what has him back-peddling.


I don't care how much money a man or a woman has or earns. When he or she has to keep paying for a partner, resentment often builds within the giver. I've experienced it personally and have seen it divide couples on many occasions, regardless of what the financial agreement was. Moving in with someone and having no financial agreement is foolish and risky.


He's wise for wanting her to get her finances in order before getting married. And, with his track record of several engagements, he could bail out of this one as well, but if she becomes more responsible financially, she should be able to keep the relationship together.


He probably feels that indirectly he is supporting her mid-20s daughter. Bringing home $800 a week means she is likely earning $50,000 a year or more. The poor baby can't live on that? If Unsure wants to hold on to this guy, she better stop spoiling and enabling her daughter.


Unsure's beau may also feel that her finances could deteriorate even further, and he doesn't want to be the bank.


He hasn't fallen out of love. Love is just getting trumped by her poor financial management and she needs to prove to him that she's going to change that. Let's hope she can do it. 


Money and financial issues cause more divorces than any other issue.

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