Financial Transparency is Essential

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Research shows the first year of wedded bliss is the most challenging and it all comes down to financial stress.

Simply put – Financial transparency is essential for a happy relationship. A joint study by Deakin University’s Australian Centre for Quality of Life and Australian Unity found those married for less than a year are the least happiest of all married couples. If couples can work through this difficult initial time, speak openly about money and demonstrate financial transparency then things become easier for the relationship and the couple can work together to manage any issues that appear. Artcile SMH: Research by Relationships Australia shows the four main reasons why relationships suffer are: financial stress, communication difficulties, different expectations and values, and lack of trust. Karen Phillip, a Sydney relationship counsellor and author of OMG We’re Getting Married — 7 Essential Things to Know Before We Say I Do,  says that in her experience money differences are responsible for more break-ups than cheating. “It’s the biggest reason listed for relationships to end – you would think it’s infidelity, but no, finance takes the cake,” she says. Trouble starts when couples have not thoroughly discussed their financial habits or mapped out their cash goals, Phillip says. “If couples aren’t transparent, they still think what they earn belongs to them, so he thinks it’s his and she thinks it’s hers,” she says. Aligning financial expectations is an uphill battle if either partner has financial skeletons in the cupboard. “Often the debt of a partner may come as a surprise, even if they’ve been together for a long time beforehand,” says Phillip. “Or it could be their spending habits, which the other partner doesn’t know about.” With couples getting married later in life, Phillip says brides and grooms have a strong sense of independence and identity linked to their income-earning ability. She recommends married couples create joint bank accounts, while also setting aside a discretionary amount into a separate account for individual spending. “A lot of women in particular feel like they’re giving up their independence and are worried about losing their sense of self,” she says. “Couples need to understand the “Me” becomes “We” when they get married.”