Navigating the Delicate Topic of Money in a Marriage
May 07, 2007《紐時周報全文精譯》探討婚姻中微妙的金錢問題
Nobody tells you what a big, uncontrollable role money will play in your marriage.
In fact, when I conducted a recent unscientific e-mail survey of married people I know, 10 out of 13 agreed that over the years, money has taken up far more energy and time than their sex life.
Of the remaining three, one person disagreed, one said Maybe”and the last said,“Not yet, thank God”－ but she isn’t quite 30, so you see what we’re up against.
The trouble with money and marriage isn’t even the money, not at first. The main problem is just learning how to talk about your finances, as my husband and I discovered － the hard way, of course － about a year into our marriage.
你 可能會認為，靠撰寫理財文章維生，可能會在這方面有幫助。但結果是一位朋友嘲笑我是騙子、在婚姻中缺乏真正財務親密關係，才迫使我們夫妻開誠布公討論財 務。我很慚愧，但這是實情。所以老公和我同意進行重要的財務會談。這非常痛苦。他和我的收入顯然都不如彼此期望中那樣穩固。他不知道我欠下那麼多債，我也 不知道他債台高築，可以了吧？
You would think that writing about money for a living would have helped. But, in the end, it was a friend who forced us to have an open discussion by mocking me for being a phony and lacking any real financial intimacy in my marriage. I was mortified, but it was true. So my husband and I agreed to have the big money talk. It was excruciating. Neither his income nor mine was quite as robust as, apparently, we both had been hoping. He had no idea I had that much debt － but I didn’t know he had that much either, O.K.?
Our financial illusions about one another were gone, but our marriage survived － and the whole experience helped me to understand how some couples can enter their 60s, the wife never having written a check, the husband having no idea that his wife managed to save a fortune during their marriage.
Talking about money is a slowly and sometimes painfully acquired skill, but it is essential “because legally speaking your spouse is your business partner,” said Nihara K. Choudhri, the author of “What to Do Before ‘I Do’: The Modern Couple’s Guide to Marriage, Money and Prenups.”
Also, you want your marriage to be a profitable endeavor. That may sound calculating, but after five years together, my husband and I have both realized that the only way to achieve financial security and a comfortable lifestyle is to act as a team.
For couples who are afraid of baring their financial souls, Ms. Choudhri suggests skipping the numbers at first and starting with how you envision your life together.“Money is all about dreams, whatever they may be: Do you dream of owning a home, having a child, starting a business, retiring by a certain age? Once you identify an area that’s common ground, use that as a springboard for discussing your finances.”
Based on my experience, that discussion takes about four to five years－ during which you’ll probably spend most of your time disagreeing. “Most couples don’t have one big blow-up,” Ms. Choudhri said. “It’s like a long-running argument over a series of money issues or a particular theme.”
That’s because marriage seems to attract financial opposites － and the sooner you and your mate accept this, the easier it will be to work together. “You will always have areas of disagreement,” she said, “but try to narrow them as much as possible so each person can have a little freedom to operate.”
To that, Ms. Choudhri added another piece of advice. “Keep money out of the bedroom,” she said. “You need a physical space in your home where money cannot be discussed.”
Based on the results of my own recent survey, I think that’s an excellent idea.
By M. P. DUNLEAVEY