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10 Ways to Handle Debt, Build Strong Marriage

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wedding season is in full bloom, and many newlyweds are dreaming of a happy life together. Agreement over finances and paying off debt are important preparations for a long-lasting union.

According to the study "Bank on It: Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest," conflict over money predicts divorce better than any other type of disagreement. Couples who disagree about finances once a week were over 30% more likely to divorce over time than couples who only disagree about finances a few times per month.

The study also says that perception about how well one's spouse handles money is also a factor in shaping family life. If an individual feels the spouse spends money foolishly, they report lower levels of marital happiness. It increased the likelihood of divorce 45% for men and women. Only alcohol and drug abuse, and extramarital affairs were stronger predictors of divorce.

Before you get married, know how your future spouse will treat money. Don't assume he or she shares your beliefs about money. Even if your future spouse is kind and respectful to you, he or she may treat money differently. Spending and saving habits may surprise you. A free spender before marriage will probably be a free spender after marriage.

To avoid surprises, have an honest discussion about money before the wedding day. This talk may be difficult to do, but it is necessary before joining life and finances together. If one partner has large debt or difficulties managing money, address these issues before the marriage. Debt can not only affect your financial future together, it can also severely damage your credit score.

Here are some financial tips for newlyweds:

1. Before the wedding, show all of your cards. Be honest about your income, debts and money problems. Bring out your bank statements from the past 12 months to show what you did with your money. Explain how your parents raised you to handle money and your strengths and weaknesses with money. Acknowledge if you are a spender or a saver.

2. Each of you should get a copy of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus. This will give you a clear picture of credit accounts, debts and how creditors will judge you. Aim to get your scores over 750 to receive the lowest interest rates for your first mortgage and other loans.

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