I just finished writing a blog post on the tremendous power of questions. I think it’s important for us to remember that the kind, and quality, of the questions we ask impact every area of our lives. One of the most critical areas is the area of our personal finances.
Financial problems rank as one of the top reasons that people get divorced. Many people recognize this as being true – and perhaps some of you have personal experience with how financial issues can upset a relationship. Much of the time, however, we fail to ask a critical follow-up question: Why is this happening?
The answer is both simple – and complicated. The simple answer is lack of both transparency and good communication. The complicated part is that, when two people meet and decide to get married, much of the time they fail to see and clearly understand things like:
- How they were raised and the values their parents imparted to them
- Their goals in life and how they plan to achieve those goals
- Their individual views on things like the sources and uses of money, effectively using debt, planning for retirement, and building long-term wealth
A good example of this is my middle daughter. She met and married a wonderful young man who has, over the 3 years they’ve been married, become one of my closest friends. When she and my son-in-law were just getting to know each other – and long before they got engaged – they talked about their individual financial situations and their plans and desires for the future. They achieved absolute clarity on their differences and developed a plan for how they would align themselves so that they could take advantage of their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
How did they do this? Through a combination of transparency and asking good quality, probing questions. Some of those questions were:
- What is your current net worth and what are your goals and plans for building wealth?
- What kind of debt are you carrying, at what interest rate, and how and when are you going to pay that off?
- What were you taught about money as you were growing up? Are your parents fiscally responsible and financially independent?
- What is your attitude toward giving to the church and supporting worthwhile charities?
- How will we support and educate our children?
- What are your plans for saving for retirement?
- What are you most concerned with when it comes to finances?
This list goes on and on, but I think you get the point. Having open, honest conversations, being willing to ask the kinds of questions that sometimes make you uncomfortable and have you squirming in your seat – but having the commitment to work through things in a non-judgmental way – almost always leads to success, security, and stability in a relationship.