I won't bore you with the details, but I finally said "I do" on Saturday the 16th. Both my new bride and I had a blast (though we're both still completely wiped out, but even so it's nice to get back to our more regular routines.
The post I had intended to write prior to the wedding was in response to a blog post I had read the week prior to that. Again by the infamous Casey (of '$2 million in debt by 24' fame), I was simply stunned by what I had read. As a real estate investor AND a new husband, let me give you some general advice about how to reconcile the two.
[...] right before the wedding, she found out that I was really “broke as a joke”. I even bought the ring on a credit card and went into debt for the marriage expenses. She came into the relationship with no debt and excellent credit expecting stability and married into a financial storm without really knowing it.My sister got engaged and never really considered something like pre-marital counseling because to her it had religious connotations that she wasn't comfortable with. After she got married one of her friends was proposed to and told my sister that she and her fiance were attending some pre-martial counseling. Very curious, my sister asked "what exactly do they do at your counseling sessions?" Her friend told her that they were talking about sharing the workload at home (chores and such), going over finances, and opening up about all the things you don't typically talk about in polite company (your credit cards, salaries, and past). Stunned, my sister asked "Don't engaged people normally talk about that anyways?"
As Casey has pointed out to us, the answer is no. But there is really no excuse for that, as a married couple you should both be completely aware of each other's situation. Months before we had the ceremony, I sat my wife down, told her were all of my bank accounts were, gave her the addresses to all of the properties I have an ownership interest in and broke down the finances for each of them. She probably doesn't remember much in the way of specifics, but I showed here where I kept my books.
If I were struck by lightning on my wedding night and killed (which thankfully I wasn't), I'm confident that between my partner (Biff) and my wife, my estate would be properly taken care of. And that's really what it's about, making sure that her decision to get married is a fully informed one, and making certain that she'd be able to continue if I was incapacitated.
This has to be an even greater concern for solo investors. What if you were put into a coma for a month, would your spouse be able to keep your investments afloat during that time? Maybe he/she doesn't have the knack for investing/landlording and couldn't run your company for the next 10 years, but does your spouse know what houses you own, how many and where they are?
I told her not to worry about it. I have it under control.These are words that I believe should never be uttered between husband and wife, except in trivial matters. I say that because the two are a partnership and whenever one has something to worry about, both have something to worry about. And even if you do take the lead in a situation, your spouse should be fully informed of that situation at all times. The notion of "Don't worry about it" harks back to a time when one spouse would dominate the other, and thus hold all the power and all the responsibility.
I’ve set some high expectations. No wonder she is feeling disappointed. I owe it to her to make it right.What every husband owes his wife, and every wife owes her husband is to simply be themselves. The only expectation of you is to treat your spouse with honesty, respect and courtesy. After that, all burdens are shared equally by both of you. Any person who is disappointed in their marriage because the wealth isn't as great as they thought it would be is simply a fool to begin with.
And of course all of this comes around full circle. Being in real estate investing isn't like stocks, it's more like owning a small business. As such, it's easy to exaggerate wealth (and many people I know do) in order to impress people. But if the person you are trying to impress is your fiance, then maybe you're investing for the wrong reasons.
The good investors I've met don't invest to impress people and woo women, they do it for future security and, sometimes, for fun. And as good investors, they make sure that their investments are placed in a position to be well handled should ill tidings befall them. And as good spouses, they are equally concerned that their significant others should be able to handle their estates should the worst happen.
I'm extremely excited to start my new life with my new wife. She fully knows all of the risks I take by investing (especially in this choppy market) and she also knows all of the potential rewards. But win or lose, we'll go through it together and share the burdens or the riches equally. It's going to be a lot of fun.
P.S. Someone wrote a comment that said "If you want to get rich, don't marry". Actually he's wrong. The real rule is, "If you want to get rich, marry happily, don't get a divorce, and don't have kids". Married couples without children really collect the cash. Any potential taxation negatives are more then made up by lower averaged living expenses and financial accountability. But bear in mind that while finance should be a consideration when deciding on marriage and kids, they should obviously not be the only consideration.