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Re: Premarital Discussion Points

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By feydom
March 15, 2006

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Congratulations! You are so brave...I admire anyone who has the courage to even consider marriage. It sure isn't for sissies like me!

How are you both at discussing money issues, such as:

NO HIDDEN AGENDA OR HERE'S WHAT I EXPECT FROM YOU AS A SPOUSE...

1. Are you both open to having a prenuptial agreement? Are you both willing to lay out in front of each other your finances (credit history, FICO scores, current financial obligations, etc.)? Will a prenup be part of your premarital counseling sessions? Prenups are more than just about dollars and possessions. It's an opportunity to expose some expectations that may not fit or define your relationship, but are simply social programming (family history/society's plan book).

ONE-INCOME (STAY-AT-HOME SPOUSE): IS IT ABOUT ABSOLUTE CONTROL OR QUALITY OF FAMILY/HOMELIFE?

2. If one of you will work at home (stay-at-home-spouse/SAHS), will the income-earning spouse contribute (max out) a ROTH IRA for that SAHS?

Will the income-earning spouse fully disclose what the family's income is? There is nothing more ridiculous and obscene than a spouse not knowing what the family income is!

Will a separate/independent personal spending account be set up for the SAHS? Will the SAHS decide how the household is managed (paid help/assistance, on-line banking, major home purchases, etc.) This is really a big issue with me, Smurfette; I admit to being biased in favor of SAHS. The issue of contribution value and partnership/control is a huge challenge for SAHSs. Home management is usually acknowledged and defined by an emotional value--which makes it vulnerable to being devalued and taken for granted. The spouse responsible for home management is seldom supported by some measure of a dollar value, which is why I'm suggesting the above. There is nothing more heartbreaking, sad, and just plain stupid wrong, than a couple arguing and fighting over money. A SAHS shouldn't have to explain to the income-earning spouse about how much is spent at AutoZone, the spa/salon, season sports tickets, or NeMe, etc., if the SAHS has a personal expense/spending account that has absolutely nothing to do with the household. As an adult, it is imperative that the SAHS establish, manage, and sustain, an independent financial identity--for the family's sake. What would happen to the family's immediate and future finances if something were to happen to the income-earning spouse (unemployed, injury, permanently disabled, death) and the SAHS had absolutely no clue about finances or managing the family's?

If the SAHS will be the major family caretaker (future little people or elderly/infirm relative), will SAHS make the decisions regarding care, including assistance? SAHS are the obvious solution to such situations; oftentimes such solutions benefit everyone but the SAHS!

Hope these suggestions give you some issues to consider.

I didn't realize until I was in my late 20s that I was not raised in a "traditional" family environment. Although Mom was a SAHS for most of our lives as youngsters, she managed the household and the money. Pops would bring home his check and give it to her. She would do whatever she did in those days, and give Pops some spending money (her words). Every now and then I would overhear (O.K. I was being nosey!) Pops gleefully bragging about how he makes it and the Mrs. knows how to spend it! He meant that Mom knew how to manage it...Funny thing, Pops was always loaning money to his pals!

Mary (too chicken to go through with it, but at least I've been asked a few times!)


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