First comes love...

You find the one. The One!

Then comes marriage (or shacking up or otherwise sealing your commitment)...

Excellent, we both love mid-century modern couches, puppies, and mint chocolate chip ice cream!

Then comes a host of money issues...

Should we combine our checking accounts? Why is his retirement savings so paltry? Which one of us is going to input our receipts into Quicken? You spent how much for that?

And if navigating the uncertainties of a relationship weren't hard enough, introduce a bunch of financial issues and your bond gets sideswiped by eye-rolling and resentment.

There are no clear-cut rules in love -- no orange pylons directing you safely through every turn. No hazard lights warn you of pending risks and missteps of the heart.

There are some pretty hard-and-fast rules in finances, though:

Rule No. 1: When you run out of checks, your Visa bill will be due the next day.

Rule No. 2: Just when you get it together to set financial priorities and line up the funds, boom! The water heater goes, or a plus sign appears on the EPT wand.

Rule No. 3: Your coupled friends, family, neighbors, and J. Lo are dealing with the same exact stuff.

Money issues continue to be the No. 1 cause of divorce in the United States. The good news is that if you can find ways to successfully navigate this issue, your relationship has that much more of a chance of succeeding.

To help you and your Sig-O handle the choppy road of romance and money, we've just introduced a guide book, appropriately titled Couples & Cash: How to Handle Money With Your Honey.

We grilled countless family, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers over the past year about what goes on behind closed (home office) doors. They shared what works and what doesn't when it comes to jointly managing their finances and have generously allowed us to re-count their dirty little money secrets -- both the successes and failures -- in the hopes that it will help other couples cope better with cash.

All the familiar topics are on parade here -- from setting goals, developing a budget, deciding who organizes the receipts, investing comfortably for two, and preparing for life's inevitable financial emergencies. In eight (brief! funny! really!) chapters, Couples & Cash teaches you how to cover all this ground with your honey -- even if your special someone would rather clean the gunk off the roof of the microwave than talk about money. (Don't worry, we provide crib sheets and cleaning tips for the uninterested partner.)

The overwhelming consensus was that communication is key to dealing with money matters. No surprise there. If only money weren't such a loaded topic. Why not take a moment right now to start a different kind of money conversation with your sweetheart -- one that's painless and maybe even a little bit fun.

Make money small talk
Setting the proper foundation for your money conversations is so important -- and so difficult to do. Here are a few warm-up questions for you and your beloved to discuss tonight over dinner:

  1. Reminisce about your first date. Who paid? Where did you go? What was the price of a gallon of gas that year?

  2. How much loose change does your partner have in their possession right now? (The person who guesses the closest gets to keep all the change.)

  3. If your partner had $10 to burn, what would he/she spend it on?

  4. Doesn't your beloved look adorable?

See? Painless! These conversation starters are just a taste of what we offer in Couples & Cash. Whether you've been together for decades or are still flush with the feelings of newfound love, this guide can help you manage one of love's greatest obstacles... Foolishly.