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Listen, discuss, adjust finances

Dear Carolyn: My fiance and I just combined our finances. I’m coming into the marriage with a small savings account and a small credit-card debt that I’ll finish paying off in March. He has a bigger savings account and student loans.

Since combining things three weeks ago, he’s been making backhanded comments about my finances. He has also explained to me several times why credit-card debt is bad, like I don’t get it.

Last night he sat me down and explained how anxious he is about my spending habits.

I am completely embarrassed and angry over his reaction to all of this. To add to it, my credit is stellar and his isn’t great. I also am now paying half of his $30,000-plus grad school loans.

How do people do this and find peace with the whole thing? – Anonymous

They talk. They listen. They figure out where their own beliefs and priorities lie, and where their partners’ do. They identify differences. Then they bend where they feel they can, stand firm where they feel they must, and take it from there.

Your fiance blew that when he started hitting you with backhanded comments.

However, he corrected himself somewhat when he finally spelled out that he is worried about your spending habits.

It doesn’t sound as if you spelled out your worries about him in return : You’re not only embarrassed about being treated as financially incompetent, but also livid at bringing your money to his loans and your superior credit rating to his future, only to be treated as a threat or a burden to his financial health.

You need to let him know where you draw the line between expressing concern about a difficult topic, and unfair criticism.

I suggest a pre-marriage workshop (www.smartmarriages. com).