6 Money Questions to Ask Before Committing to a Serious Relationship

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  • Love hormones can blind us to important issues.
  • Asking uncomfortable questions about money today can lead to less arguments in the future.
  • Financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic abuse cases.

The time to ask is before you commit.

Falling in love is a hot mess. Simply spending time with someone we're attracted to releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone. It's followed by norepinephrine, a related hormone that tag teams with dopamine to make us extra giddy. And then there's the way attraction leads to a reduction in serotonin, swamping us with "the feels."

All those "feels" may help explain why we tend to throw reason out the window when we're falling for someone. It feels too delicious to examine too deeply.

For example, we may fall in love with someone without knowing their views on religion or politics. We may also give our hearts to someone who deals with finances in a totally different manner than us.

Cold reality of science

According to science, after you've been in a relationship for about four years, those initial hormones diminish, replaced by other important hormones associated with attachment. These hormones are pretty nice too, but not nearly as blinding as the earlier ones. 

Suddenly, the fact that they never pick their socks up is less adorably disorganized, and more maddeningly irritating. The fact that they're cool with paying bills late is less bohemian and more irresponsible. 

Given that money is one of the top things couples fight about, doesn't it make sense to ask the important questions before allowing dopamine to make all the decisions? Before committing yourself to a relationship, here are six questions to ask. 

1. How do you feel about debt?

This is a biggie because if your significant other is a fake-it-til-you-make-it kind of person who thinks living large is the way to convince the world they're up and coming, you're likely to face debt issues at some point. 

2. How do you picture us splitting the bills?

Does your partner hope to merge finances and share everything or do they expect you to cover the lion's share of bills? It may not matter much today, but when those hormones begin to mellow you're going to wish you'd protected your own financial interests. 

3. How important is it to you to save for the future?

If you're a saver who joins forces with a spender, you can count on plenty of arguments when the savings account is empty and an emergency arises. 

4. Do you think "stuff" equals success?

If you're honest with yourself, you can probably already answer this question. Take a look at your significant other and consider how many toys and gadgets they surround themselves with. Do you find them bragging to others about what they have or how much they earn? If so, you'll need to decide if you share their values. 

5. What would you do if you lost all your money?

True character is revealed when everything goes south. As optimistic as you may be about your joint financial future, things can and do happen. People get sick, lose jobs, and weather bear markets. It's important to discuss how you would deal with it if everything was lost. 

6. Do you think financial decisions should be collaborative?

You immediately put yourself in a precarious position when you allow someone else to take total control of the finances. Research shows that financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic violence cases. That's not to say your partner is suddenly going to become violent, but it does underscore the importance of maintaining your own financial autonomy. If your partner says something like, "Well, I'm the one who's good with money so I'll handle everything," it's a red flag. 

True love is one of the great rewards of life, but that doesn't mean we need to wear blinders. Before settling down, make sure you financially mesh with the person you're building a life with. Doing so means money won't be something you fight about

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