June, August, September, and October are the most popular months for weddings according to “the knot.” Whether you marry during the popular months or during the least popular months, marriage goes beyond the wedding.

Being a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, I have the opportunity to work with couples during all stages of a marriage. When couples are starting out, building a family, relocating, downsizing, and retiring. From these interactions, I at times feel as if I’m a marriage counselor, especially with couples who lack communication.

Communication is defined as:

the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else

Sometimes people remember the talking part of communication, but often forget the listening part. Sharing ideas means talking about your ideas AND listening to the other person’s ideas.

Excuses I hear from couples who lack communication include:

We just don’t have time between work, kids and other obligations …

I didn’t think we needed to talk about it, I assumed my spouse felt the same way ..

I’m the breadwinner so I make all the decisions …

Do you make time to talk to your spouse about important matters? Answer these questions to test your knowledge about your spouse:

What are your spouse’s top priorities in life?

What changes, if any, would your spouse make to your current lifestyle?

How does your spouse view your lifestyle with kids? post-kids? in retirement?

If you’re having a hard time answering these questions, then ask your spouse. You don’t have to explore all these topics in one conversation but over time. There’s no right answer or wrong answer.

If you’re confident you can answer these questions, then ask your spouse for confirmation. You’ll know immediately if you’ve been making assumptions.

If you really don’t want to know your spouse’s input, then make sure your spouse is aware of your perspective. Every relationship is unique due to the individuals involved. Some relationships have an unspoken understanding.

In my role, I don’t judge relationships. I need couples to come to an agreement on their lifestyle and expectations in order to help them with their finances. I can ask the questions to begin the process. But ultimately, they make the decision about their lifestyle. The only way to reach a decision is by communicating – talking, but more importantly listening.

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Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her clients tend to be going through a major life transition (new graduate, marriage, growing family, divorce, widow/er, empty nest, etc.). Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”