Starting off on the right path together

Dear Dave,

I’m getting married next summer. My fiancé and I are in agreement about how to handle money, and we both follow your plan. Do you recommend pre-marital counseling? If so, what do you feel are some of the important areas of agreement for couples before they get married?

Allison

Dear Allison,

Congratulations! I’m glad you’re both on the same page with your finances, too.

I’ve worked with thousands of couples and numerous marriage counselors over the years. In that time, I’ve learned fights over money—and the resulting problems from those disagreements—are probably the biggest cause of divorce in America. In my opinion, in-depth pre-marital counseling is an absolute must. The idea of entering into something that’s supposed to be a lifelong commitment, without thoroughly addressing all the issues—and potential issues—is a really bad idea.

With that said, it’s been my experience that couples have a high probability of a successful marriage if they agree on four things, in detail, before the big day—kids, money, religion, and in-laws. With kids, the big question is do you want them? If so, how many and when? Are you going to let them run wild, or are you going to provide structure and make them behave?

When it comes to money, something it sounds like you two are already in agreement on, get all your cards out on the table, and construct an intelligent game plan for your finances that you both agree on. Staying away from debt, living on a written, monthly budget, and saving for the future are important parts of this.

Also, be in agreement on religion. Statistically speaking, two people from the same faith have a better chance of making a marriage work. And finally, when it comes to your future in-laws, you need to learn who they are and what you’re getting into. What are they really like? What are the boundaries when it comes to their influence on your lives?

All these topics should be discussed at length, dealt with, and agreed upon before the rings are exchanged. God bless you two, Allison!

—Dave

* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money MakeoverThe Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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