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Before you walk down the aisle, you have to get naked with your future husband ... that is financially naked. The engagement period is the time to talk about all-things money — from shared assets (think: salary, income, investments) to liabilities (like mortgages, student loans, credit card debt). You have to own the good, the bad, and the ugly of your financial situation, which isn't easy.
It doesn't matter if you have a hefty trust fund or you're carrying thousands of dollars in student loans, money in an uncomfortable topic for everyone. The key is to talk about it while reaming respectful, patient, and compassionate. Here's how to have the conversation, which should bring you closer together, not push you apart.
1. Start early
Start sharing your financial information soon after getting engaged. Don't put it off.
2. Start small
First, discuss something that doesn't freak either of you out too much. Maybe that's your exact salary or your student loan debt. Then, during the next conversation, talk about your credit cards. Another day, your family's financial situation. Bit by bit, you'll grow your knowledge of each other's financial nitty-gritty, at a pace that you both can handle.
See more: When Financial Opposites Attract
3. Be respectful of each other's emotions
It's normal for feelings of fear and vulnerability to get stirred up when you talk about money. The key is to respect your reactions. When one of you gets overwhelmed, take a break.
4. Remember, it's going to take time
Getting it all out on the table in one sitting might seem easier, but you won't get very far. Emotions play a big role in money conversations, so take small sips as you disclose your information to each other.
Have you had the money talk with your fiancé yet? Tweet us how it went @BRIDES.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.