When couples ask your opinion about whether a spouse should return to the workforce full-time, "It's almost like playing marriage counselor," says Beth Scanlan, a director at Credit Suisse Private Banking in San Francisco. "A marriage counselor is taking both sides and is not going to provide opinions. We're giving guidance."

Beyond running the numbers-calculating costs for child- or elder- care, other household expenses, commuting, new clothes, etc.-planners should also lay out tax advantages and options for the additional income. In addition, it's essential to paint the bigger picture. Couples need to think about each partner's happiness, long-term job prospects and financial security or risk creating conflicts that could poison a marriage.

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