The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

ENGAGEMENT-RING

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

The price on weddings has risen significantly in recent years. So-called “normal” couples today incorporate detailed websites, photo booths and giant ice sculptures into their marriages, and even throw weekend-long events. The industry likes to marry the idea of love and commitment with how much is spent. But although most of us scour the plan looking for ways of saving a few dollars, some wish money was no object. They secretly drool over celebrity-style affairs in exotic locales, taking place in lavish venues where so many luxuries abound their guests’ heads spin. We dream of becoming a part of what looks like modern day royalty. But be careful what you wish for. All of that style may be hiding a lack of substance, according to a study out of Emory University. You would think those who shell out the most mean it the most. But this study found the opposite to be true. The most expensive weddings lead to the shortest marriages. Two economics professors came to this conclusion. They also found that the higher the price-tag for the engagement ring, the greater the likelihood of divorce.

3,000 participants, married only one time, took part in this study. They found that those men who spent $500 to $2,000 were 1.3 times less likely to get divorced than those who spent $2,000 and $4,000. Those who spent $5,000 to $10,000 on the wedding were 3.5 times less likely to get divorced than those who shelled out over $20,000. In an email to Big Think researchers wrote, “Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful.” Though they’ve found a correlation, determining causation is far trickier. The economists surmise that such a big event inflates the expectations of the marriage. The couple is enchanted into the notion that things are going to be easy from here on out. Both parties have unrealistic expectations which undermine reconciliation when the couple hits a stumbling block. Those who have a more moderately priced affair have a level-headed view and so are ready when the inevitable difficulties arise.

No matter how much you plunk down for your wedding, there are some qualities that can be sustained by both parties to give the marriage the best chance of success. The first is to focus on the positive rather than the negative. There are little things that will inevitably drive you crazy. But if you can remember how supportive and understanding they are, you can perhaps overlook the hair they leave in the shower drain or that they are never once on-time. Invest in your relationship. This could be time, energy or thoughtfulness. But you get out of a marriage what you put into it. Communicate clearly and make sure you understand what your spouse has said or is saying. Lots of fights boil down to miscommunication. Fight smart. If you hurt your partner but win the argument, have you really won? Learn to let the little things go. And find ways to increase your closeness and strengthen your bond. For more on how to achieve marital success read, Strong Marriage, Happy Life: The Core Principles of a Successful Marriage and How to Make Your Marriage Work by Sonya Dawson.

Ways for Couples to talk about Money

MONEY-CONVERSATION

Ways for Couples to talk about Money

What’s one of the biggest indicators of an oncoming divorce? Talking about money. Money is the number one most contentious issue for couples and the topic fought about the most. People are even using financial indicators as to whether or not they want to marry a person. A survey conducted recently by the website Lawyers.com found that 40% of responding couples, ranging in age from 25 to 55, found honesty about finances more important than fidelity. Today lots of couples want to manage their money in a smart, healthy way.

Gone are the days when one or the other spouse took care of all the money matters. Today couples want to discuss it and manage it together like partners. But what is the best way for couples to talk about money without the conversation devolving into a squabble? Financial advice website Learnvest.com CEO and newlywed Alexa von Tobel has some ideas. She recently teamed up with Cosmopolitan magazine to conduct a “Love and Money Boot camp.” This five day seminar includes how to best combine your finances and what moves you should make to ensure a successful financial future together. Couples are talking about money early nowadays as the relationship moves on.

But why is money such a thorny topic for couples? Mrs. Von Tobel said in a statement, “Discussing finances openly with your partner is crucial because money plays into every aspect of our lives, from the jobs we take to the way we raise our children. Since it affects so many major decisions, it’s necessary to check in with your partner from time to time to make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to your finances.” Understand that there is no set way to manage money. If you are having difficulty in planning together, why not consult a financial planner? If one person thinks the other spends too much, the planner can go line by line through the credit card statements. It takes the pressure off the concerned party and takes resentment out of the equation.

Next, consider how you will merge your assets and your debts. Perhaps figure out a percentage out of each person’s salary that is put into a joint account that then pays the bills. Decide who pays those bills too, how it is done and so on. Don’t wait until there is a problem. Discuss financial issues often. Why not even schedule a certain time once per month or every other week to revisit the issue? Decide on a discretionary spending ceiling. Keep your shared goals in your mind. It isn’t always easy to iron out the money situation. But if you can do it, you will come out stronger as a couple. For more financial advice read, Home Finances for Couples: Resolve Money Problems in Marriage and Learn Easy Steps to Manage Your Family Budget by Leo Ostapiv.

Ways to Put your Finances Together

finances

Ways to Put your Finances Together

In the old days men generally took care of the finances, though in a few households the women took the money and paid the bills. Today, as partners, we are expected to each contribute our thoughts and feelings on the matter. People have different backgrounds and outlooks on how they deal with money. Some people realize that you only live once and money is to be enjoyed. Others understand that saving for the future and being frugal is paramount to success. Both outlooks are true. But it all depends on the kind of lifestyle you lead.

If a free spirit marries a skin-flint you’d better hold onto your hats. The arguments these two will have will be explosive. But talking about finances and ways to put them together, how to manage them, compromising, coming up with innovative strategies, and remembering shared goals are all a part of becoming life partners. It can still be difficult to navigate the uncharted waters of shared finances. There are lots of traps along that journey. But instead of falling for them take a look at these ways of putting your finances together. See if you can suggest one or two to your partner, move through the roughness and on to smooth sailing straight up ahead.

There is the equality approach. This is where both partners keep separate accounts but put money in for savings and the bills into one checking account. Both parties contribute an equal amount. Realize that a joint account means both people can put money in and take money out. There should be an explicit understanding of what that money is for and trust in one’s partner that they will handle their access to that account responsibly. If you aren’t getting married but cohabitating consider getting a cohabitation agreement to cover what may happen if you two break up. Further, separate leases could cause less grief should someone want to leave whilst both of you are on the lease.

When there are unequal incomes involved, a way of alleviating this problem is to allow both parties to contribute a percentage of their income, or what they can afford. Of course, if one person is a hedge fund manager and the other a kindergarten teacher and they live in a penthouse apartment, there’s no way the teacher could afford the rent. But who would want to give up that apartment? Instead, the educator can contribute what they would pay were s/he in a regular apartment. This gives the teacher their own independence. S/he is not reliant on the significant other for support. But it is also a sign of respect, in contributing his or her fair share. For more advice read, Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Matt Bell.

Financial Signs that your Date has Long Term Potential

finances

Financial Signs that your Date has Long Term Potential

TD Ameritrade and website Learnvest.com recently conducted a survey and found that most couples fight about money on average around five times per year. Other studies have shown that money is one of the most contentious issues for couples. It’s always the biggest issue in survey after survey that couples have to contend with. When dating someone if you happen to get to know how they handle their money and other financial issues, their dealings in these matters can exhibit character qualities that they possess. Someone who pays all of their bills on time for instance is conscientious, detail-oriented and responsible, whereas if they are irresponsible with money, or a total spendthrift, these qualities may weigh heavily on your relationship, of course depending upon who you are and what your financial situation and spending habits are. Certainly trustworthiness, chemistry, shared values and love all should inhabit a relationship. These are good qualities to have, especially for a long term romantic relationship. So what other financial signs should you look out for in your date to see if they have long term potential?

Many experts agree that it’s good for both of you to share in the financial decisions. It’s important that a couple act as a team. If you aren’t cohabitating yet, does the person you’re dating ask your opinion on things or are they more independent? The TD Ameritrade and Learnvest study found that generally with married and cohabitating couples, one person pays the bills and writes the budget. Really both people should know how to do these things on their own, particularly with how high the divorce rate is. However, if your love interest asks your opinion and is very considerate, there is a high chance they will be easy to talk to and negotiate with when financial matters come up. Of course you shouldn’t bring up personal subjects like money, savings, investments, retirement plan and so on, on the first date. Not if you want a second date. But as things start to get serious these are important issues.

How comfortable is this person talking about money? When someone is paranoid or testy about the subject, it can put a real damper on the relationship. But if your lover is comfortable discussing matters and opinions on all things financial, this person is a keeper. Is this person financially stable? What is there debt situation like? There are lots of people who are forgoing marriage due to their hesitancy in taking on their lover’s debt. Everyone must decide what is right for them. But having a life partner who has their financial situation under control, and is able to discuss financial matters with you are good signs of a strong relationship with long term possibilities. For more financial advice read, Money before Marriage: A Financial Workbook for Engaged Couples by Larry Burkett.