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Special section Love and money -- oil and water?

Before picking out your future kids' names, find out if you're headed for wedded financial bliss or a train wreck.

Talk about debts before walking down the aisle

Today, the couple has a 6-month-old daughter. The wife would like to stay at home, but she can't. They need her paycheck.

"They threw caution to the wind and that wind is still howling over them two years later," Green says.

Control is often the real issue
While a big financial misstep will strain any marriage, many arguments about money go far beyond dollars and cents.

"Couples think it's a counting issue. It's not," Hayden says. "It's about power and control."

Hayden remembers the day a husband and a wife who were both accountants came to her office. Hayden was prepared to talk financial strategies. But first she acted as a referee.

The wife was pulling sheet after sheet of the couple's financial plan out her briefcase when the husband bellowed, "Where am I in those sheets? I am nowhere in those sheets!"

"Since he wasn't in the system. He just spent," Hayden recalls. "What he needed clearly was some autonomous money and then we could set up a system."

It's easy for tempers to fly, especially when one spouse spends a lot more than the other or when a partner agrees to help with the other's debt.

"Control issues, for young couples in particular, are really huge," Hayden says. "That's when couples start to fight."

The argument often begins with one spouse demanding, "How can you tell me what to do?"

You've got to give a little
To work through money issues, both partners should be prepared to give a little.

"Reform shouldn't be a goal," Dunnan says. "If you think you're going to reform someone, you probably shouldn't get married."

Instead, search for some common ground. Hayden urges to each of her clients to think of themselves as sort of a financial Gumby, that oh-so-stretchable children's character. That way you can keep your feet planted firmly in your financial comfort zone and still stretch to meet your partner halfway.

"You're not losing your footing. You stretch," Hayden says. "You don't lose your autonomy.

"There are no right answers in the money area. The only wrong answer is when money takes down a marriage, when you divorce over money."

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-- Updated: Jan. 30, 2007
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