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Marriage – The Second Time Around

Marriage – The Second Time Around

By Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy

Ah marriage! It’s what many of us expected to take part in when we were younger. That’s what you did – you fell in love, got married, had a family and then grew old together.

Unfortunately the best laid plans don’t always play out the way we expect. Sometimes we fall out of love and get divorced and sometimes worse, our spouse passes on, leaving us to figure things out.

The beauty about marriage is that no matter how hard the first one was or how profoundly heartbroken we were when it ended, by choice or circumstance; many of us are willing to try again. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, 43% of divorced Canadians and 16% of widows and widowers, remarried and in the US, 4 in 10 new marriages involve a remarriage.

There are definitely some financial decisions and implications of marrying for a second time around. As anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, money can wreak havoc if it’s not handled well. Consider these three tips before tying the knot again:

Talk about your history

Before you say “I do,” talk with your spouse-to-be about money. Think of money like an iceberg – what people see is how you spend money but that’s just the tip. The interesting and juicy stuff is under the surface and it’s what drives our behaviours and attitudes around money.

You owe it to yourself and your person to talk about the “below the surface” stuff.

Some examples can include how you were raised with money. This information likely impacts your money values and beliefs.

You should also discuss how money was handled in your first marriage. Did you handle everything? Did your spouse? Did that work? Was there tension or peace around money?

Also talk about how you want your next marriage to be with respect to money. What do you desire? What are your goals? How do you want to spend the rest of your life and what are the financial implications of your desires?

What’s mine? What’s yours? What’s ours?

As you plan out your wedding, consider what is yours, what is theirs and what is ours? If you have assets and retirement savings, do these become joint upon saying “I do?” If you have debt, who pays it once you’re married? And if you have children, what happens if you pass away first? Do your children receive what you had before the marriage? Are they beneficiaries to any insurance policies? Does your new spouse get everything?

While this may not be the most enjoyable conversation ever had, it is a crucial one. By having this conversation and getting clear as a couple how you’re going to handle money, assets, liabilities and estate planning, you are saving yourself considerable grief, angst and money.

Stand united

My father told me before I married my husband that once we said “I do,” there was a bubble that we needed to create and keep strong. The bubble keeps everyone out – in-laws, children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues, everyone!

If you are making the monumental decision to remarry for a second time, you owe it to yourself and your spouse to really make a go of it and that means you are in this together. You are a united front. You are undividable. You are committing to making decisions together and putting each other before all others (even the adult children).

If you and your soon-to-be spouse are struggling to have the money conversation, seek out some help from a non-profit credit counsellor who can help you create a meaningful and manageable budget and help you talk through some potentially big money pitfalls.

You owe it to yourself and each other to do what it takes to make the second time around a success.

Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy is the Director of Education and Community Awareness at the Credit Counselling Society. She has a Master’s degree in Family Ecology, is a professional Coach and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance. She has presented at various conferences and has served on expert panels at University of British Columbia and Carleton University. She has published articles in Canadian Living, Vanier Institute for the Family, My Money Coach and Amik, and has been interviewed by CBC Radio, Global National, and the Toronto Star. Stacy has co-written two workbooks – Making Cent$ of Money and Money Management Basics – and has developed personal finance curriculum for various workshops and webinars. Stacy serves on a national financial education committee.

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