Your wedding is in six weeks. You've tried to talk about money with your fiancée for the last few months and he continues to find a way to shut down the conversation. You're especially panicky because last night you had this conversation:
You: "Honey, our wedding is in six weeks and I'm feeling very uncomfortable because we've never really talked about money and how we'll handle it after we're married."
Your fiancée: "We did talk about it, sweetheart. Lots of times. Aren't I paying for most the wedding expenses? And didn't we agree we'd take care of the details after we get back from our honeymoon."
You: "Yes, but money is such an important part of marriage and I think we should clarify some things before we marry."
Your fiancée" Why? I love you; you love me. I'm starting to feel you don't trust me."
Big red flag here! Talking about money won't get any easier after you're married.
Consider this - The financial part of your marriage isn't about trust. It's about equal participation and financial transparency for both of you.
You have to be financially intimate because once you say "I Do", you become one-half of a legal and financial partnership. Whatever your husband is doing financially, you're doing it too. Your fiancée should honor your need and desire to discuss money before the wedding. He should be welcoming your interest and desire to participate, especially if he believes you are an equal partner.
Many women have asked me about the line between holding back financial information and abusive behavior by a spouse. Both result in a lack of financial information. Withholding financial information from a wife who asks about it is disrespectful and demeaning.
If you choose not to ask, that may not be smart, but it's your choice. If you ask, but your husband won't tell you, that is a form of emotional abuse. You may have access to marital funds, reasonable mobility and buying choices. You may be frustrated by your husband's behavior and attitude, but unlike financial abuse, you won't be consumed by fear and financial restriction.
Financial abuse takes withholding behavior one step further. It's designed to isolate you into a state of complete financial dependence. The abuser is not out of control. He knows what he's doing. Other people may find him charming and sensitive and he can adapt his behavior to the social setting.
But his objective is to isolate you and make you totally dependent on him financially. The way he does that is to cut you off from all access to funds and information unless he provides it to you.
Financial abuse can often lead to physical abuse as well. It happens within all age ranges, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds and financial levels. The rich socialite who lives in the largest house in the best neighborhood is as likely to be a victim of financial abuse as the poorest wife in the toughest section of town.
When you're intelligent enough to sense a red flag before your wedding because you want to talk about money before marriage, you are acting responsibly. But your fiancée is already showing you that money is not an easy subject for him.
Ask yourself if there are any other things you can't discuss comfortably before marriage. Whatever those things are, count on the fact that they'll be bones of contention after you're married. And you won't have nearly the flexibility you have before the wedding.
Be honest with yourself . You may be marrying the wrong person. Going into marriage with red flags is like skiing downhill blindfolded. You wouldn't do that either, would you?
(c) 2008, Helga Hayse Reprints welcomed so long as the article and byline are kept intact and all links are made live.