Financial Foreplay: Are You Doing It?

by Manisha Thakor

Time and again money is cited as one of the top causes for fights in relationships and divorce.  One way to prevent wallet wars is to engage in financial foreplay.   But first, some basics…

What is financial foreplay? The process of getting to know your sweetie’s most intimate feelings about money.

Why is it so important? As one of my favorite personal finance bloggers, April Dykman, highlights in her piece “Do Savers Seek Out Spenders?” academic studies show we are hardwired to be attracted to our financial opposites.  There is quite literally something intoxicating about “financial otherness” in the early stages of a relationship… a feeling that can (and usually does) wear off after you walk down the isle. So as personal finance columnist Ron Lieber of The New York Times wisely points out, it’s important to identify your financial differences before you commit to debt do you part.  In this spirit, here are 3 fun questions you can ask your honey about money.

1.    Fill in the blank with any word except EVIL: “Money is the root of all….” This simple question reveal a lot about how you each think about money.  Some people will say “opportunity or freedom” while others will say “fights or problems.”  This is a playful way to initiate a talk about how money was (or wasn’t) discussed when you were each growing up.

2.    Fill in the blank:  “Rich people are…”This is another super telling question.  Some people will say “hardworking, driven” while others will say “lucky or spoiled.”  This question can help you broach your feelings about saving, spending, and financial goals.  Some people want to die with their spending perfectly timed to leave $0 in their pockets while others want to live off their interest and never touch their principal.

3.    Scenario analysis – today you get $20 million & a diagnosis of a rare disease that will leave you dead in exactly 10 years.  What will you QUIT & what will you START?The most common answers I hear are quit my job and start traveling.  This question is a great way to highlight your core priorities, and make sure they are complementary.  If you love your honey “only because” she is a neurosurgeon or he is an investment banker – but her/his dream is to be a yoga instructor… you may want to talk about that!

Have you ever experienced financial tension in a relationship?

[For more MoneyZen in your life, follow Manisha on Twitter at @ManishaThakor, on Facebook at /MThakor, or visit]

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