I spoke with Somerset County, NJ family law attorney Katherine K. Wagner, Esq. who has seen first-hand the most common things that create problems in a marriage, or end a marriage. We hope you can use this article as a cautionary tale and avoid these three common relationship pitfalls.
Don’t Hide or Lie About Your Financial Situation.
This is #1 for a reason – it is the most common thing by far that trips up newlyweds.
Regardless of your financial past and present, you should be upfront about it with one another. Marriage is more than a romantic partnership – it is a business partnership also. You will both likely work, contribute to your joint expenses, and share household responsibilities as a team.
Financial surprises are seldom good surprises. Disclose that bankruptcy filing or that student loan or credit card debt. Be upfront with how much income you each bring to the partnership so that you can craft a realistic budget for the household, together. Use credit wisely to build your creditworthiness.
Of course everyone needs a bit of “mad money” for themselves, and agreeing on that within the budget will help you avoid unnecessary conflict.
Be honest and upfront with each other about debt and income, and then please agree to live within your means.
Don’t Stop Communicating.
You should have an ongoing conversation with one another, checking in to make sure you are both on the same page and making sure that any course correction that is necessary is made and agreed upon.
Ms. Wagner noted that she’s had many, many divorce clients say to her, “I don’t recognize my spouse – he or she is not the person I married!” Obviously, everyone changes and hopefully grows as the years pass. Continuing to communicate and make decisions as a team will help you grow together instead of apart.
Ms. Wagner also noted that her divorce clients complain of not being appreciated, of being taken for granted. This is a communication issue. No matter how many years you’ve been married you should strive to support one another, thank one another, confide in and dream with one another. This can help you preserve that adventurous and romantic energy tat you started with. Also, when things go awry (as often happens) you should be gentle with one another and address the problem together, as a team.
Don’t Get Married Without a Prenuptial Agreement.
This final “don’t” is a bit sticky. A “prenup” is likely the last thing a couple newly in love wants to think about, however, having one protects premarital assets in that if the marriage should end, assets and debts both individual and joint can be dealt with in a pre-organized fashion. This will certainly relieve some of the stress of an already stressful situation.
No one in love wants to contemplate the end of the relationship. However, if you truly care for one another, plan to take care of your future selves by working with an attorney to draft a comprehensive pre-nuptial agreement. Hopefully, you will never need it, but if you do you will be glad you took this advice.