Post-Divorce Relationship Getting Serious? How to Talk Finance 

October 6, 2021
Jackie Porter

Article written by Jackie Porter

You finally legally separated from your long-time partner. The milestone of your separation came with its share of both emotional and financial scars.  You had no idea your spouse mishandled the family’s finances and put you in this position. One where you had to start over at a time you thought you would be able to slow down. Perhaps even start thinking about retirement.   Now as the dust settles on your new life, you unexpectedly find love again. Your post-divorce relationship is becoming serious faster than you ever thought possible.

As talks with your new love turn to the future, you worry about how to breach the subject of finances… Especially as you continue to rebuild your savings and credit. You may be tempted to avoid talking about money with your paramour post-divorce. It’s true, talking about money can become more complicated after a divorce. But can you really afford not to have a money conversation? Think about the impact not addressing finances has had in your past relationship. If you are struggling with addressing the money with your new partner, read for 5 tips on how to talk finance in your post-divorce relationship. 

Now is the Time to get Financially Naked with Yourself

I mentioned getting financially naked with yourself because for many people the idea of looking at yourself naked in the mirror and accepting your flaws can go a long way in building your self-confidence.  This is also true when it comes to finances.  Ask yourself, post-divorce, have you looked closely at all sides of your balance sheet? Do you have a budget that outlines your expenses, financial obligations from your past relationship? Including spousal, child support if applicable? Are you up to date with filing your taxes?  Do you know what you have leftover to save for the future?  How much debt are you currently carrying and what interest rate are you paying on this debt? What is your plan to pay off what you have left owing? What is your overall net worth?  

These questions are a great starting point to get a better sense of your financial health.  Recognizing that it may not feel good to look closely at your finances after your divorce, is an essential action to figuring out where you are. Finding what steps you can take to move your finances in the right direction. Understanding your financial situation thoroughly is also crucial if you plan to have this conversation with your new partner. They are likely to feel more assured if you have a handle on your finances even if it is not where you want it to be. 

Embrace Getting Financially Naked Sooner than Later with Your New Partner

A recent study revealed that 1 of 3 Canadians would separate from their partner if their partner had significant debt.  Obviously not the best of news for people trying to broach the money conversation but an important statistic to know.  Even more reason to have the conversation about what you owe and what you own sooner rather than later.  This may sound cheeky but sometimes, getting financially naked with a partner can feel more vulnerable in a relationship than deciding to become physically intimate. 

However, for any relationship to work financial intimacy needs to be considered a skill that you continually work on mastering, and if handled properly can improve your relationship’s chance of success.  Review your net worth statement and budget with your partner so you have all the financial details on hand should they have additional questions. Discuss your financial plans with your partner and encourage them to tell you about their plans. Your partner may still need time to come to terms with your financial situation, and you will need to respect that. 

Moving Forward Financially as a Couple 

 Getting your financial facts in the open and getting a handle on what your partner’s financial circumstances look like will likely form the basis of the two of you coming together financially as a couple. It is an open secret that relationships typically finances are one of the major reasons relationships fail. Embrace talking about money in your post-divorce relationship by being open about your financial situation right from the beginning and sharing more details as the relationship becomes more serious.  Set the expectation that financial transparency needs to come from their side as well. Your partner’s willingness to participate in a money conversation could be a signal of the longevity of the relationship as your individual life circumstances evolve.  Keep in mind over the course of any long-term relationship, finances may change.   

Enlist the Help of Professionals 

If the prospect of thinking through your finances on your own scares you and you don’t feel equipped emotionally or otherwise to address this, enlist the services of a financial planner and accountant if applicable. You may also want to consider speaking to a therapist if you are still working through overcoming unhealthy patterns where you did not talk about money with your previous partner.  Enlisting a neutral third party can also be helpful in creating a plan to rebuild your finances or talking through sensitive areas of your financial circumstances with a new partner. It can also be a great way for you and your partner to co-create a plan together! 

Take Action and Keeping the Conversation Going 

As your post-divorce relationship grows and you start doing more things financially as a couple, schedule regular financial update meetings. An annual financial date night can be a great way to talk about what you both want for the future and to update your financial data. Set an agenda for what you will discuss and pair it with your favorite meal. Remember a family that plans together stays together!