Money has always played a huge role in marriage, and with the economic crisis, it's become more important than ever before.
For many couples, the trouble with money and marriage isn't even the money itself -- it's learning how to talk about their finances.
But just how do you get that financial intimacy into your relationship? Bethany and Scott Palmer, also known as "The Money Couple," joined "Good Morning America" to explain how and to talk about their new book "First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple's Guide to Financial Communication."
Read an excerpt of the book below and then visit our "GMA" Library for many more good reads.
Chapter One: Forget the Budget, Save the Relationship
This book isn't going to tell you how to create a balanced budget. It's not going to tell you how to pay off your mortgage in ten years. It's not going to tell you how to live debt free for the rest of your life. Why? Because without healthy financial communication, without a commitment to putting an end to financial infidelity, none of that stuff works. After more than thirty-five years of combined experience as financial advisers, we've learned that if you don't know how to talk about money with your partner, if you don't know how to keep financial infidelity from destroying your relationship, budgets and plans and payments won't mean squat.
The conventional wisdom out there is that financial health comes from a clear budget, minimal debt, and controlled spending. So when -couples hit a financial bump, they head to the bookstore to find a resource that will give them the perfect road map to financial freedom. They create tidy budgets. They pay off their debt. They control their spending.
Those road maps are fine and they often get -people where they want to be—at least on paper. But like any road map, they don't take into account the fact that there are -people driving the car, -people with their own personalities and habits. Maps can show you the route to your destination, but they can't help you get there without yelling at the person riding shotgun. That's why even -couples with perfect budgets and paid-off houses and zero debt still end up arguing about money, angry about money, resentful about money.
Even -couples with spotless credit reports can be mired in the kind of financial infidelity that sullies relationships. Because the budget isn't the problem; the lack of financial communication is the problem. We didn't get that for a long time. Bethany and I used to talk with couples having serious financial problems. We'd put together the cash flow worksheet, help them develop a budget, create a plan for paying off their debt, and send them on their way. We'd feel like we'd done our job and helped these nice people. They'd feel good because they'd taken this important step toward getting their finances on track.
And then we'd get the phone calls: "He blew our budget!" "She's not following the rules!" "This isn't working!" Those same -couples we'd tried to help would show up six months later to discuss their assets in preparation for their divorce. We'd ask them what happened, and one of them would say, "She's just not committed to this budget." But what these men and women were really saying was, "My partner is just not committed to this relationship."
We began to realize that our question shouldn't have been, why isn't the budget working? It should have been, why isn't this financial relationship working? Because in nearly every financial crisis we see, the credit cards aren't the problem and the mortgage isn't the problem. They are symptoms of the financial communication that isn't happening. And when that communication isn't there, financial infidelity almost certainly is.