First Comes Love, Then Comes Finances...? Pt. 2
Part 2: The Engagement = Financial Goal-Setting
As mentioned in Part 1, the First Comes Love, Then Comes Finances, 3 part series explores love and the importance of finances.
To truly become “one” there is a level of acceptance, sacrifice, and continuous compromise that takes place. Lack of understanding of our partner's love language(s), sensitive subjects, tolerance, etc. often lead to arguments that could have been avoided if handled with the appropriate amount of empathy. Marriage counseling can help to build a bridge of understanding for both partners as they grow and become one throughout the relationship. It may lead to awkward and/ or uncomfortable conversations; however, establishing the framework early on minimizes heated debates.
From a traditional standpoint, when a man has thoroughly assessed his relationship and finds that the woman he has been captivated by will make a great suitor (wife, mother, partner, etc.) he goes to her father (parents) and asks for permission to have their daughter’s hand in marriage. The first major financial purchase of the relationship is made. Engagement rings tend to come with a hefty price tag! It has been said that a man should expect to pay at least 2-3 full months of his salary on the engagement ring. In this instance, I would say that it is refreshing to know that this is a “general rule” and not something that necessarily has to be followed.
For many, the engagement period is consumed with wedding planning; however, it should also be a time of life planning. The wedding is one day and is very small in comparison to the life that is expected to be shared. Budgets, formal wear, venues can quickly become overwhelming so it is important to break the monotony with remembrance as to why you are in love with your partner. A wedding planner (coordinator) may be a great resource that can assist you in keeping everything within your means. Most important the marriage is to be a reflection of God's love through the love shared among the two partners. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a solid foundation, because the world is consumed with tearing anything good and positive apart. It is important not to begin your union with hefty debt, because of consumption and greed to meet the "expectations" of others.
Marriage counseling allows for unbiased, truthful conversations to be had. It is important to be pushed out of your comfort zone so that you can truly understand not only the expectations that you have for the relationship but also the responsibilities that you will be shouldering. Having a third party [marriage counselor] present to guide your discussions in a safe and non-combative manner keeps both of you focused and on an even playing field. Prior to encountering trials and tribulations, it is important to have a game plan in place and a significant level of understanding. Knowing that friction and intense moments of fellowship will happen it is equally important to know how to handle those situations maturely and responsibly. In those moments of intensity it is necessary to be "completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace" Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV).
Along with establishing the groundwork for a healthy marriage. It is now time to put all of the conversations had throughout the relationship into an actual plan. Money (in abundance or lack thereof) is one of the leading sources of friction in a relationship, so it is imperative that a high level of importance is placed on the subject. Financial Goal-Setting is important for establishing the objectives that are important to both of you because it impacts every area of your relationship. The number of children you can comfortably afford, the type of home you may be able to purchase, career choices, miscellaneous expenditures, and so forth depends on the type of lifestyle that you desire.
Benefits of Financial Goal-Setting:
You have an agreed-upon plan that will guide your decision making
You have attainable, trackable goals
You are able to hold each other accountable
You have a set time frame to free yourself of certain debts and/ or to have a certain amount of savings in respective categories (retirement, college savings, "rainy" day, etc.)
Honest and open discussions have taken place
You have a plan that will positively impact all areas of your relationshipIt can be updated and revised as your goals/ situations change
You are able to think short-term, intermediary, and long-term
You are able to set a livable budget early on and begin to put good habits in place
If you can afford the additional expense, a Financial Advisor/ Planner can help to establish the framework necessary to achieve the goals that you have collaboratively decided as essential.
Being engaged can be a blissful time even though it comes with its own set of unique stresses. As you begin to plan your wedding, it is crucial that you also begin to put together a solid and workable plan for you to execute as a team. Whether that is understanding family dynamics, where you will live, what and how accounts will be merged, how financial responsibilities will be divided and/ or shared; it is best to not wait to tackle these life changers. Proverbs 24:27 encourages us to "put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house."
*Part 3, will discuss The Marriage, which explores Financial Freedom and the need for continuous acts of love and appreciation.