Can you be too polite when tip-toeing around the money topic?
Canadians have a reputation for being unfailingly polite, in contrast to our often-brash neighbours to the south. However, could we be too polite at times? Perhaps so, according to one online survey by CIBC of 1,047 Canadians who participate in Angus Reid Forums.
Findings suggest that almost all couples think that discussing finances openly prior to entering into common-law or conjugal bliss is important, yet nearly two-thirds will forego this step. In fact, of couples who intend to move in together or get married within the next 24 months, 40 per cent admit that they only “briefly” discussed the joint management of their money.
Of the survey participants who admitted to avoiding discussing money prior to their weddings or days they set up housekeeping together, 83 per cent stated it was either because they didn’t know how to broach the subject or intended “to play it by ear.”
This reluctance to lay one’s financial cards on the table can lead to unmet expectations, frustrations, fights and ultimately may be at least partially responsible for the break-up of the marriage or relationship.
CIBC’s managing director of tax and estate planning commented in a report on the results of the survey that arguments over finances are a reliable predictor of divorce. This is especially true for younger couples experiencing more financial stressors. He also cited American research indicating couples who bicker over money multiple times per week have a 30 percent higher risk of divorce than couples who only squabble over finances less often than once per month.
If you find discussing finances with your soon-to-be-spouse uncomfortable, consider how difficult it will be for the two of you to hash out an equitable property settlement during divorce proceedings. Keep in mind that it’s not considered rude to be well-informed about your financial future — it’s wise. Seeking legal guidance at any phase of the process can add clarity to the situation you face.