Financial matters can be an uncomfortable or touchy subject to discuss with friends and loved ones. However, if you’re about to walk down the aisle with someone, it’s important to have an honest discussion about credit. After all, “till death do us part,” means you’re essentially inheriting each other’s credit for that long, too.
Since you have chosen to marry this person, however, chances are that you have a good idea of their preferred communication style. Use this to your advantage when you decide to bring up this all-important discussion. If you’re still uneasy about approaching the subject, here are some tips and guidelines to help.
While this scenario isn’t ideal for everyone, it works for some couples. If you’re curious about your future spouse’s credit history and outlook on credit, just ask them. You may be surprised to realize that they’re relieved to have the conversation as well. At the end of the day, you need to know where each of you stand.
Take a marriage course
Many people who practice specific religions and wish to get married in their preferred place of worship may be required to undergo a “marriage course.” If this is the case for you and your soon-to-be spouse, ask your church leader if he or she plans to work finances into the discussion at some point. If not, request to do so. The purpose of a marriage course is to set boundaries and identify potential obstacles ahead of time, eliminating the possibility of more serious issues down the road.
Enlist a neutral third party
If you’re uncomfortable with this topic of discussion, try enlisting the services of a mediator. They often offer more services beyond civil disputes and divorce. They’re trained in conflict resolution, so if this has been a topic you’ve broached unsuccessfully at some point, they can help you resolve it in a calm manner.
Schedule a “credit discussion”
If you haven’t yet talked to your future spouse about this all-important subject, he or she will likely suspect the discussion is coming. Try asking them over dinner one night if the two of you can schedule a meeting to discuss your individual finances, and decide if joining accounts is right for you both.
Try premarital counseling
Many couples like the idea of being well-prepared for the challenges of marriage beyond just the financial aspect. Many counselors specialize in couples therapy and can serve a similar role as that of a church leader mentioned above in helping you to navigate a constructive discussion. Visiting a couples therapist doesn’t mean your relationship is in trouble. We often see doctors for preventative care; why should your relationship be any different? Plus, as a neutral third party who will be dedicated to the health of your relationship, they can help you outline a plan that works for everyone.
Determine your financial compatibility quiz
If you want to approach the subject of credit, but are unsure of how to do so, try asking your partner to take a financial compatibility quiz. There are many quizzes online that can help you judge your compatibility when it comes to matters of credit and how you manage your finances. This is a great way help you get on the same page with your soon-to-be spouse.
Email them an informative article to open the discussion
There are many credit repair resources online that offer tips on giving your credit a boost before a major life event. Consider using one of these to your advantage by sending an article to your future husband or wife as a catalyst for starting the conversation.
Bring it up casually
The ads and events we’re subjected to every day actually offer a perfect opportunity to introduce the topic of your current financial standing and hopes for your future together. There are certainly plenty of credit-related issues in the news and in mainstream media these days. The next time you hear a story about a credit breach or see a commercial related to obtaining a home or car loan, use this as an opportunity to start a conversation. Or next time you’re driving and see a billboard for a credit repair company, point it out and get the ball rolling.
Talk about your personal financial goals
Talk to your betrothed openly about your lifetime goals and how your finances and credit will impact them. Maybe you’d like to buy a home, make different types of investments, or set yourself up to travel the world in your retirement years. Sharing these goals and dreams may prompt your partner to open up about their own financial vision for the future.
End on a positive note
Whatever comes of your discussion, make sure to end it on a good note. You’re getting married! So pop a bottle of champagne and share a toast. There’s always a reason to celebrate such a happy event and look forward to the endless possibilities the future may hold.
If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated each month.