Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I grew up pretty poor. My parents are amazing and I had a great childhood, but they worked hard to stretch every dollar and we never had any extras. We always had clothes and food and even went on family trips. But the clothes were always hand me downs, the food was basic, and the trip was always a long road trip to a cousin’s house. I have no complaints and I think I turned out pretty well.


I am now dating a great girl and I really like her. I feel like I am pretty close to talking about the future and even an engagement, but there is something holding me back. Money. This girl grew up in a wealthy home and I am worried about a miscommunication about money in the future. Her clothes have always been designer labels, their dinner menus don’t sound anything like mine, and her vacations have taken her all around the world.

I don’t want to live a fancy life. I want to live a comfortable life, and I’m not sure that she will be ok with that. I could use some advice.

Money Matters


Dear Matters,

We recently went to a restaurant to celebrate a family birthday. Everyone was most excited for dessert. They knew the restaurant staff would come out and sing with sparklers and a delicious treat. They were not disappointed when a huge platter of beignets landed on our table. “Yum!” my toddler exclaimed. “Bidets!” Umm. Nope. That is definitely not correct. No one wants to eat a bidet. Like, literally no one. Apparently, clarity really matters when it comes to desserts; and to everything else as well.

Thank you for reaching out. This is a really important topic and I am so glad you want to address it. Every couple, regardless of their backgrounds (but that definitely adds weight) should discuss money before they get married. Disagreements over money can really add tension to a marriage and can be largely avoided with a bit of preemptive clarity.

There should be three parts to your conversation about money.



You need to discuss what your individual financial expectations are. Not only about what you will each be contributing as a couple, but also about what you expect your spouse to offer you in terms of gifts, vacations, and the like. Be honest and respectful and hopefully you can come to a mutual understanding. This is less to do with ambition and your professional or learning goals, and more to do with your hashkafa and what makes sense and sounds right to you both as a couple.



While, it may not be fun to have a conversation about a financial burden you may carry, it is important that you are honest with the person you hope to build a life with. This includes any dept you may have (credit card, student loans etc.) or any financial responsibilities you already carry (to your family or anyone else). You must be on the same page as to how you will manage any current debt and your finances to avoid any future pain and misunderstanding.



This conversation is one that will determine your financial compatibility. Is one financially conservative, while the other is a free-spirited spender? Does one of you like to buy now and worry later, while the other pinches pennies? Does one of you want to “go big or go home” when you make large purchases while you accrue debt, while the other wants to save up and buy when they feel more financially stable? It can be very hard for a couple with opposing financial lifestyle choices to maintain stability in their marriage. Have this conversation, and you will certainly minimize financial disagreements.

No one likes to talk about money. Its uncomfortable and makes us feel awkward, especially in a new and blooming relationship. But a couple who is on the same financial page will be miles ahead of one who never discussed money before marriage. Take it from me and our beignets; clarity matters.

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at [email protected] to schedule a phone session.