Like everywhere else in the world, some marriages in Vietnam work, some do not. There are many reasons why a betrothal might not survive the test of time but, because finance is my field, I will address just one conundrum you might encounter in your quest for true love: Are you married to a gold digger?

Here are five areas to think about with your partner, no matter whom he or she may be.

Does s/he have a massive secrecy around finances?
You should know roughly how much your partner earns, how much s/he has in savings and where it is.

Know something about your partner’s financial history. How has s/he managed to survive up until this point?
Ask about your partner’s family situation. You should not be met with an out-of-the-blue request for a mother or cousin to borrow money if you have been through this with your partner. Say upfront who and what you will lend money for. If you know that the family are sitting on their own money, why do they have to borrow from you?

Agree from the outset who controls what in the relationship. I know some people that just give a monthly allowance to their partner and that is it. No more, no less. I know other couples that are open and honest about everything with their partner, using joint names on their financial assets which require only one signatory. It is entirely up to you how to make this work but it has to be fair to both parties.

Short of a prenup, there are arrangements that can be made through wills, trusts and estate planning. If you are unsure or wary of how trustful your partner or in-law family will be and you still want to be with them then that is your call, but you can protect yourself.

The main thing in any marriage or long term relationship is trust. You have to make decisions not on an emotional basis but a rational one. The second that you start lending or giving money out without getting what you want in return, you will always have difficulties. Be honest with each other from the start and you should have no problems and if things come up early on, you can decide early on in the relationship if it is going somewhere you both want, or just one person wants.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at Paul.mclardie@t-wm.com

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