Why Financial Fitness Isn’t Just About Getting Married

Honest, open communication--not finger-pointing--is vital in a happy relationship

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When it comes to finances, honest communication early in the relationship is key.

A recent Atlanta Post article, Six Reasons He Won’t Marry You … Financially, on love and money provoked lots of comments from offended readers and sparked debate among the Black Enterprise editors about the importance of financial compatibility in a relationship.

The premise of the article is relevant and engaging: Yes, finances play a major role in a couple’s compatibility and relationship success, especially when it comes to marriage.  But, in error, the author leads one to believe that someone–particularly women–should be financially fit just so a man will want to marry them, and that the burden of proving financial “fine-ness” lies solely on the woman.

Here’s one excerpt I read with a raised eyebrow:

Five years later, you’re still here and unmarried.  You’re [sic] good woman.  You’d make a great wife…What’s wrong? It’s You. Often, the most beautiful and intelligent women miss the aisle because they lack financial ‘fine-ness’…Often, the commitment you seek is farther than the road you’re blocking from his financial freedom.

(Blocking a man from his road to financial freedom? Are you serious? Brother, give me a break.)

Building wealth and managing money is something you and your potential partner must do together. This writer’s take on the subject is very reactive, singular, and self-centered when it should be advocating proactivity, teamwork,  and compromise.

Take this notion:

“… In order to survive and be successful, our self-confidence must always remain in tact… We’ll push you away if you make us feel smaller than our vision of ourselves. …  Succeed; but never flaunt your financial prowess.”

(So, not only are women supposed to pat a mate on the back whether they’re successful or had a setback; we must also downplay our own successes or else get the boot?)

Let’s look at our priorities here. How about focusing on empowering ourselves, whether male or female, to build financially fit lifestyles, thus making it easier for us to focus on things that should complement–not supplement–one’s life, such as marriage?

On Blackenterprise.com, we regularly feature stories about relationships and money management (See Love & Money), and the common thread is this: two people working together toward a common goal with open and honest communication. If a person is in a serious relationship and has not talked about their financial history, spending habits, and outlook on money from the start– that’s the real problem.

Though healthy money management can contribute to relationship success (that is, if success to some, means marriage), it is only part of the full picture. A mate’s compatibility and so-called “worth” is far more than contributing to someone’s bottom line.

Let’s rethink our priorities and motives for the way in which we live, and stop using insulting finger-pointing and stereotypical assumptions. Let’s take the strategic steps in striving to improve and build a clear path toward wealth for life, thus leading to fulfillment in any partnership, whether it’s in career, entrepreneurship, business, or love.

  • Alyssa

    Very nice article! Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy and sexism in some of those sentiments. You have a gift. Continue doing what you do!

  • Jeannette

    Ms. Janell Hazelwood…I read your article and Mr. Jemal Webb’s article as well.  I totally agree to with what you are saying!  I submitted a comment  to Mr. Webb regarding his article.  His article does spark much conversation as he seems to point the finger at Women about sustaining a financial relationship/marriage with a man.  What I find ironic is that Mr. Webb later posted a comment indicating that he personally has not experienced the things he is talking about.  He states that he has been happily married for 10 years to a woman who appreciates him but says that his article comes from his personal research speaking to real men.  Even though he has me scratching my head in confusion, I like when people like him write article like that.  It makes us aware of the type of people who are out here and know that it’s our choice to be with them or not.  

  • Alyssa and Jeannette, I am glad you enjoyed reading the article. Please continue to check out some of our other content on personal finance, investing, careers, and entrepreneurship.

    And yes, healthy dialogue is always good in today’s society. We must have these discussions because, as I mentioned in this piece, open communication is always key, especially when it comes to love and money.

  • PointBlankHeadshotKnowledge

    You all TOTALLY missed the point of the article he wrote. I’ll TRY to keep it brief. There are a LOT of black women out here, who are in horrid financial situations. These women have a bunch of kids, debt, too many expensive clothing items, etc that they really can’t afford. Despite this, these women STILL run around with the Foam “I’m number one” finger, and wonder why good men DON’T wife them up or want to be with them in any long term capacity. The reasons are that your financial situation BLOWS and these men don’t want you dragging them down. It’s common sense that a man and a woman NEED to financially build together. However, if the women is in a financial hole, you can’t even start on building a “Foundation” when you have to get the woman out of the “Negative”. You have to get to 0, before you can build a damn thing.

    I don’t understand why there is SO much pushback on this. I mean, I hear black women say all the time stuff like “Men are like checking accounts, if they don’t have any money, they don’t generate any interest” and “You gotta have a J.O.B. if you wanna be with me”. I mean, you as black women want the men who want to be with you to be financially together and financially tight, right? I mean, damn, I love how the double standard is rearing it’s ugly head here. What you essentially are saying, is that a black man should accept a “Black Queen” even though her financial situation is that of a peasant. “If he’s a real man, he should be able to handle a Real Woman like that”. On the other hand, men have to come to the table with all their ducks in a row financially. Ladies, just like you want your man together financially, we want our women together financially. Is that so hard to understand?

  • Dear Mr. Point Black,

    The point is not whether women (black/brown/purple or yellow) should have their finances together before seeking a committed relationship. That is a given. The point is that both men and women should work to be good financial stewards, and the author of the Atlanta Journal editorial did a disservice to women by singling them out as if they are the only ones with a debt problem. If women do have more debt and financial problems then men, please show me a statistic to prove it. Otherwise, address the problem universally. Yes, there are women who spend too much money on clothes, shoes, and handbags, but there are men who spend too much on consumer electronics, golf clubs, or fancy sports cars when they can’t afford it. There are men by the dozens who will wear the most expensive kicks around but are six months behind on their child support payments. So, Ms Hazelwood’s point is this: its not a woman thing or a man thing-its a debt thing. Get it together before you get married, not because you want to get married, but because it is the right thing to do.

    • PointBlankHeadshotKnowledge

      Well met Marcia. I KNOW there are men who are in horrid financial situations and financially irresponsible as well. However, there is a marked difference. Men who are in this position for the most part KNOW they are in this position, because he is constantly informed that he is. If a man who is financially busted gets too big-headed, and out of his “Lane” as it were, he is knocked back into his lane real quick. Women, especially black women, have NO problem telling a man how broke he is, how “Ain’t sS&^t” he is, and what he can and can’t have/get due to his financial situation. He can choose to ignore what women tell him, but it doesn’t matter because on way or another, he is forced to accept his current life position by way of the women he covets, basically telling him to take his broke ass straight to hell.

      Now, as for the women, they are NOT told such things NEARLY as much as a black man is. Black women, as a whole, are allowed to have delusions of grandeur, and allowed to have fanciful ideas about the kind of man/boyfriend they deserve, regardless of their financial situation. A black woman can be broke, terrible credit, bunch of kids running around, and yet, she is largely NOT told to “Stay in her lane” or “No, you can’t get that high-class/desirable” type of brother. She is allowed, by society at large, to aim as high as she can in terms of a partner, and is never brought to account or told that a man is “Out of her league” because her financial status is horrid. Basically, there’s an accepted double standard in place.

      I’m with you Marcia. Both the man and the women should work on their financial situation. However, when you have a double standard that is in place, that bashes men who are not financially fit, telling them to “Be realistic about their choices”, but on the other hand, a woman in the same financial situation is told she is a “Queen” and isn’t told she should be more realistic, and she is good the way she is, and doesn’t need to make any changes financially, that is epic fail (sorry about the run-on sentence). That’s all I have for now. Have a blessed day. I apologize for any typos, I was typing this really fast.

  • Theresa

    Thank you for this. I read that other article and it was downright ridiculous and quite narcissistic of the author. Everyone has financial vices, but the key is to learn how to compromise and make plans that work for the marriage, not just the individual. We need to lose the “me, myself, and I” mode of thinking. If that’s the case, then why get married? 

  • Julie O. Griffith

    Hi Janell, Julie here, I also commented on the AtlantaPost tomfoolery, please review.

    Thank YOU for reposting this article on Black Enterprise for a wider audience and encouraging dialogue on this never-ending subject of “Why Black Men Don’t Want Black Women, which is now being disguised as “financial fineness”.

    Yeesh.  Will it ever end???

  • Jeannette

    Thank You Marcia Wade Talbert for clarifying what you mean, your response was on point!  To PointBlank…I did not miss the point and do feel that in the previous article it is women who are being singled out when both men and women that have these financial issues should be addressed.  I have no idea about your associations but when it comes to financial fitness, there is no double standard.  Women are not being told it’s okay not to be financially fit while men are being told the opposite.  I have no idea where you are getting that from.  If anything, women are encouraged about financial fitness because of the advantages.  Perhaps if the Author of the previous article approached us positively without pointing the finger at us, he would have gotten more positive feedback.  We are not saying that it’s okay for women not to be financially fit.  We are saying that when talking about financial fitness and marriage, both men and women need to be addressed.  

  • I think both sexes have some virtues when it comes to money.  Check out my segment “Invest Like a Lady, Spend Like a Man”  http://youtu.be/lcyaUHuB920