A Marriage Counselor Before Marriage?

Brit's fiancé won't talk to her about the debt he has, and Brit is nervous about their money future. Dave doesn't think this marriage is going to be off to a good start if they don't get on the same page.

QUESTION: Brit in Sioux Falls and her fiancé aren’t on the same page about money. He won’t talk to her about the debt he has, and Brit is nervous about their money future. They went through FPU together, and she isn’t sure where to go from here now. Dave doesn’t think this marriage is going to be off to a good start if they don’t get on the same page.

ANSWER: I don’t either. Number one, it makes you nervous about your future. Number two, he doesn’t want to talk to you about money, and the number-one cause of divorce in North America today is money disagreements. This is not a very good indicator of your future marriage. As a matter of fact, it’s a very poor indicator of your future marriage.

I think you’re going to have to have a sit-down with him where you have a discussion. You may want to do it with a marriage counselor. You need some pre-marriage counseling, and it needs to include the discussion of whether he’s going to grow up and be a man, or if he’s going to be a little boy who drives a car he can’t afford. The manly thing to do—he’s a broke college student with $24,000 in debt—is for him to realize that and get rid of the stupid car. If the value of all of your vehicles added up is more than half your annual income, you have too much in car. He has a $24,000 car debt and makes $40,000. It’s more than half. He should sell it. Today.

I think going back through FPU with him would only be useful after you’ve met with a marriage counselor. I don’t think it’s useful in the current place in your relationship because he’s not responding to you on this subject, and it’s the most important indicator of future marriage success. All the research says the number-one cause of divorce is money fights. If we know that, and we know going in you’ve already got a problem, that’s a big red flag. The sirens are going off. This should be a major concern, not because it’s a concern about money, but it’s a concern about how you aren’t communicating about multiple areas of your life like transportation, your future, your ability to communicate and talk about something, your ability to agree to do something and then follow through and do it and be accountable to each other ... Those things are all woven into this discussion.

I think the two of you need to sit down with a good marriage counselor. All couples should have good pre-marriage counseling. Again, a great statistical indicator for future marriage success is in-depth pre-marriage counseling. You could start that process and begin it with this discussion. Then go back through Financial Peace University if you want. I don’t give people guidelines as an excuse to stay in debt or be broke. I give them guidelines to give them a general way of thinking about things. You have to learn to think for yourself. It’s not, “How can I stay in debt? What does Dave say that I can do to stay in debt?” Nothing. He never says that.