Be Careful Getting Married For Purely Financial Reasons

In previous discussions, I’ve asked you to set aside your emotions for your partner. It skews your thinking and it can lead you to make an emotional reaction to a person versus the logical decision-making process we’re going through together.

I’ve asked you to set aside your affection for your boyfriend or girlfriend so you can take an honest look at your partner and decide if they are what you really want.

There can be a problem with being too practical however and that’s what I want to discuss today- getting married for purely financial reasons.

As an amazingly practical person myself I can see the allure of doing this, getting married because it’s good on your taxes, but just let me throw a spotlight on it for a moment and introduce some caution.

Let’s talk about it.

Hey! While you’re here, check out my video on Be Careful Getting Married For Purely Financial Reasons.

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Risks And Rewards

So why get married for financial reasons? Well, there are a lot of reasons:

  • Better health insurance
  • Lower taxes
  • Shared benefits and discounts
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plans

There’s a lot of really important adult financial reasons why you might want to legally entangle yourself with somebody. All of those things are great on face value.

Now I’ll be honest with you, I hadn’t given this much thought. I’ve been married for a long time and this was kind of just part and parcel with getting married for me. I had other reasons why I wanted to get married, but recently I’ve had some discussions with a few people and this topic has come up with them.

They’ve said things to me which really get my ears pricked up and I just wanted to talk about it for a minute and make sure that everybody had the proper understanding of the risks and rewards with this reason for getting married.

Precautionary Statements

We’re going to start off with some statements that you should really look out for. If you find yourself or your boyfriend/girlfriend saying this, pay attention. Then we’re going to talk about some more practical matters and issues that can crop up along the way and how you might want to tackle those.

Marriage For THEIR Happiness

When people tell me that they’re thinking about getting married for what they consider to be mainly financial reasons, this statement is inevitably followed by one of these general statements:

I’m not sure if I really want to get married, but it would make my partner happy.

If this comes out of your mouth (you pair this financial reasoning statement with making your partner happy) I want you to go back and read my post on Why YOU Want To Get Married.

What are your reasons to get married? If it’s only to make someone happy, someone that is not you– then you should really sit down and consider whether that’s a good reason. There are other ways perhaps of dealing with these financial issues.

This is going to sound cold, but here’s the antidote to your previous reasoning:

Do not let your boyfriend or girlfriend’s happiness steer your life.

As I said in our discussion about changing people, lasting change is 100% selfish.

This means you can’t change for somebody else- you will only change for yourself. You need to change for reasons that are important to you. Marriage is a change, so you need to get married for reasons that are important to you. Your individual happiness needs to be satisfied.

Marriage Is Easier Than Being Decisive

Here’s the second statement that I hear paired with the financial reasoning marriage argument:

Well, we’ve been together for X number of years and it’ll really just make it easier from a financial point of view.

Stop right there. That isn’t a reason to get married, it’s an excuse not to make a decision!

You either want to marry this person because you want to be married to them or not. The fact that you want to get married just so you can get lower taxes is a questionable and shaky foundation in my point of view.

I want you to go back to our discussion on the importance of honesty with your partner and honesty with yourself. It’s time to talk to yourself. Really look in the mirror and be honest with yourself, because when you say, “We’ve been together, let’s just get married for financial reasons, we’ll figure it out,” what I’m hearing is:

This person is presently tolerable and it’s just easier to stay with them than it is to go and find someone that I might really be happy with.

If you take YOUR phrase and put it the way that I put it, it doesn’t sound so nice does it? It makes you kind of sound lazy and you’re probably going to be unhappy down the road.

Be An Adult And Decide

We already talked about not using divorce as a plan ‘B’, so don’t start thinking, “We’ll just get married for that financial stuff and if it doesn’t work out we’ll just get divorced.”

That’s fantastically adult thinking.

That’s great. Let’s get all our finances and insurance entangled with each other and then we’ll just walk away and it’ll be easy? Don’t bet on it.

Get Married Or Not

Now down to brass tacks.

Here’s what I recommend you do if you find yourself in this situation. Ask yourself this question, the question that we’ve been asking all along in 100 different ways:

Do I want to marry this person or not- even if it’s NOT financially advantageous for me at this point?

If the answer is NO, then call them up right now and say, “Hey, this isn’t working out. I’m moving on.” Then cut bait and run. Go find someone you do want to be happy with for emotional reasons. Someone that you actually want to have a life with- not a financial plan.

If the answer to that question is YES– you do want to be married for love, but your reasoning is still somewhat financial- then let me just issue some cautionary statements.

Marriage ‘Food For Thought’

You’re going to make your own adult decision, I just want to give you some food for thought.

Social Issues

Are you going to have a wedding? Who’s going to marry you- your financial planner? What are you going to tell your friends and family when you decide to get married? Is that the reason you’re going to offer? Decide if that’s important to you.

We have other discussions about listening and not listening to your friends and family, so put that in the mix. Think about what you might do if that’s important to you.

Financial Issues

Talk to your insurers, your banks, your mortgage company, and your work. See what it would take to get your boyfriend or girlfriend on your insurance, benefits, and life insurance without getting married to them.

Could you add them as a beneficiary? Can you form a trust with your assets and add them to that in some capacity? Talk to a financial planner. Maybe it’s not necessary for you to get married, even if you want to have the financial benefits of it.

Legal Issues

Let’s talk about the legal issues for a moment. Do you live in a community property state? What do they have to say about civil unions? What do they have to say about how you divide property when you split up?

What if you move for your job? Will the laws change? They probably will. What is that going to mean to you?

Prenuptial Agreements

This is what comes up, “We’re going to get a prenup.”

Okay, great you’re thinking ahead. Make sure you go and talk to an actual lawyer about a prenup.

Don’t go on Legal Zoom and print one out. Don’t write it on the back of a napkin. Don’t make a handshake. Go talk to a lawyer and really hammer this out.

Better yet take your boyfriend or girlfriend with you. Make sure you have a really honest discussion about this. If you emotionally make each other happy; if you decide that you want to be together then you should be able to do that.

They either will or will not understand that you feel the need to financially protect yourself. They’ll be offended by it or not; they’re going to be with you or they’re not, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Make sure you really have an honest discussion about prenups, because you don’t want lingering doubts and things to creep into your relationship somewhere down the line.

Separation Issues

Let’s touch again on separation. That’s the final topic I want to throw caution on. Just because you have a prenup doesn’t mean you’re just going to be able to pack up your suitcases and go your separate ways.

It’s a process. It will take time. It will take money. It will take emotional energy.

The person that you’re with can make this a living hell just by going to a judge and whining about how you’re going to cut them off from their resources, and their insurance, and then now you have an issue.

They could not show up in court, it could cost you more lawyer fees, who knows where this is going to go? There’s a rabbit hole that you could go down here, so the more entangled you get with a person, the harder it is to separate yourself.

One thing you could do is have separate bank accounts. You could have separate titles. You could have put your money in a trust or some other financial instrument that they couldn’t touch. You would want to make sure that you honestly discuss all of this, that your prenup would cover all of this; that your agreement with this person would cover these issues. These are important issues to discuss.

Adults Protect Their Finances

I’m not saying don’t use this as a reason to get married. Financial considerations are an extremely adult thing to think about and I really like that your mind is in a practical, logical mindset.

Just be cautious and have an honest discussion with your partner. If they’re a logical adult, and they’re in the same mindset as you, this will not be a problem.

If they whine and moan, then maybe you’ve weeded out a potential issue down the road. Then you can put that in your decision-making mix and decide if you want to continue with this person.

Leave me a comment. Let me know if you have had problems with this. Let me know if there’s an additional issue which we haven’t discussed. I’d really love to hear about it.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. There’ll be more.

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By Alex Blasingame

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