Can a Financial Advisor Facilitate a Happy Marriage?
I recently celebrated my 35th wedding anniversary. The same week one of my clients told me it was their 60th!
These two anniversaries caused me to reflect on something I previously never considered.
I have worked with hundreds of clients, but I can only recall two who divorced while we were working together.
I also have many clients (about 20) who have been married for more than 50 years.
According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce. About 60% of second marriages end in divorce. The anecdotal track record of my clients is much better.
It got me thinking about why some couples stay together while others split apart. I’m also curious whether, as a financial advisor, whether I somehow play a positive role in this process.
The Power of Transparent Communication
Open, honest dialogue about financial matters is a cornerstone of successful relationships.
Studies have shown that financial issues are one of the top causes of marital conflict and divorce. Disagreements over spending habits, saving goals, and debt management can quickly escalate into heated arguments and feelings of resentment.
A survey conducted by SunTrust Bank found that financial stress was the leading cause of relationship strain for 35% of couples, easily outplacing “annoying habits.”
A surprising 36% of those in relationships said they don’t seek their spouse's or partner's advice before making a purchase, regardless of the amount.
Seven percent of couples reported “never” discussing finances.
In my advisory practice, I always meet with both members of a couple. Especially at the beginning of a relationship. We talk openly about all aspects of their financial life.
Financial advisors can help eliminate misunderstandings and potential conflicts by promoting clear communication about money. When we make complex financial concepts simple and understandable, we help couples feel more comfortable discussing finances and understand their financial goals and the path to achieving them.
Shared Decision Making
Often, one spouse assumes the responsibility for financial matters in a relationship. Which is fine as long as both partners understand and contribute to major financial decisions for long-term financial success and harmony.
Joint contribution promotes transparency and accountability within the relationship. When both partners clearly understand their financial situation and actively participate in decision-making, it can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts related to money.
There’s an even more practical benefit of joint decision-making (coupled with a joint bank account). One study found that couples who merged their finances felt better about handling their money, had better goal alignment, and responded to each other’s needs without expecting reciprocity. The study concluded that: “...increasing financial interdependence helps newlyweds preserve stronger relationship quality throughout the newlywed period and potentially beyond.”
A financial advisor should ensure that each partner's voice is heard and their concerns are addressed. They should ensure that each person understands their financial situation, obligations, and decisions.
The Importance of Estate Planning
How can you love someone if you haven’t taken the time to prepare for a future without you?
Estate planning can have a positive impact on relationships. Having a plan in place can alleviate stress and uncertainty for both parties, leading to more open and honest communication about their wishes for their assets after they are gone.
A financial advisor should simplify and facilitate the process, helping couples understand the critical role of estate planning in their financial future and peace of mind.
Under a financial advisor's guidance, couples can decide how they want their assets divided, strategize to minimize potential estate taxes, and ensure their wishes will be honored in case of sudden demise. Joint decision-making in these matters can prevent potential family disputes and ensure wealth is distributed as intended.
The Role of Regular Financial Reviews
A financial advisor should provide regular, comprehensive reviews of a couple's finances. These reviews help couples understand their current financial situation and track their progress toward their financial goals. They identify changes in income, expenses, and life circumstances that might require adjustments to the financial plan.
These regular reviews also reinforce the sense of partnership between spouses by promoting relationship harmony, avoiding surprises, and facilitating joint problem-solving.
Trust is a cornerstone of a happy relationship.
Open communication about financial matters can build trust in couples by fostering transparency and honesty. When both partners are open and honest about their financial situation, they can work together to create a budget that works for them and plan for their future together. This level of trust and transparency can also help prevent financial misunderstandings and disagreements. By working together and being open about their financial goals, couples can build a happy and healthy relationship built on trust and mutual respect.
Open, honest dialogue about financial matters is a cornerstone of successful relationships. When we make complex financial concepts simple and understandable, we help couples feel more comfortable discussing finances and understand their financial goals and the path to achieving them.
Can a Financial Advisor Facilitate a Happy Marriage?
In this insightful blog, financial advisor Marc Daner reflects on the factors that contribute to a successful marriage. Drawing from his experience, he explores the connection between transparent communication, joint decision-making, estate planning, regular financial reviews, and building trust in relationships. By understanding the pivotal role of finances, couples can work together towards a happier and more fulfilling marriage.
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