Before You Say “I Do”: Money & Marriage Exercise 2

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Bride & Groom - Sunset KissSpring is in the air, which means many weddings are being planned. If you are like most soon-to-be-married couples, you’re now gearing up for what is likely to be the most complex (not to mention expensive) event of your entire life.

Planning a huge party and making it memorable is sure to be stressful. This rite of passage has been called a “nightmare” by some and “total hell” by others.

As if learning to communicate about money with your future life partner weren’t hard enough, throw in the in-laws. Many in-laws become out-laws before the wedding even takes place.

Take a deep breath. Count to 10. This exercise will help you look beyond the wedding day and start planning for your life together. Specifically, it will help you focus on your deepest held values. I need to give credit to George Kinder, author of The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in your Life, for developing these ideas.

Begin by reflecting on this question: “Imagine you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is completely and richly yours.” You can be sure that any unspoken goals will never be fulfilled.

This exercise is particularly helpful to those who feel stuck. One person who completed this exercise admitted to such great frustration with his current circumstances that he would not allow himself to dream. Naming our desires forces us to confront our associated fears. Speaking these goals brings them into the light. Your future spouse can respond and offer support or constructive criticism.

You can expect that this exercise will lead to a reprioritization of your time and money. You will find the work of life comes much easier when it is aligned with our passions and aptitudes. One family realized that by downsizing their lifestyle, they were able to work for a nonprofit that brought them much greater satisfaction in life.

All of this may sound too fuzzy or creative, but nothing is more important in the wealth management process. Balancing a family’s financial goals and making financial choices according to those values is at the heart of comprehensive financial planning. Financial woes often come not from a lack of income but from our failure to live according to our true values.

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Matthew Illian was a Wealth Manager at Marotta Wealth Management from 2007 to 2016. He specialized in small business consulting, college planning, and retirement plans.