We all know money is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S. What we don't seem to know is what to do about it.

We all know money is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S. What we don't seem to know is what to do about it.

Without advice at the beginning of a marriage, couples often get off on the wrong foot - either forging a flawed system or ignoring the issue entirely. From there, it snowballs, and explodes when things are at their worst.

And while advice can't be given across the board, two national experts we interviewed had plenty of suggestions for newlyweds facing this issue: Bethany Palmer, who recently authored the book First Comes Love, Then Comes Money with her husband, Scott (the two are known as "The Money Couple"); and longtime expert and adviser Ruth Hayden, author of For Richer, Not Poorer.

Use the four tips below as a guide to navigating this not-often-discussed aspect of a union. (And remember, if you're not legally married, there's no legal protection for money you might share, although committed same-sex couples can have a lawyer draw up certain stipulations.)

1. Rule No. 1: no secrets

More likely than not, one or both parties are bringing debt to the marriage. And that's not something that should be revealed after the "I dos," but both Hayden and Palmer said they see it far too often.

Before taking the plunge, couples need to have the "money talk." Use the sometimes awkward conversation to get several issues out of the way: priorities for paying off debt, who's responsible for it and your feelings about using credit cards.

2. Evaluate your attitudes toward money

"I had a client whose husband, when they were dating, spent all kinds of money on gifts for her. She just loved it when they were dating, but when they got married, she was like, 'Now wait a minute, we need to save that money,'" Palmer said.

When opposites like spenders and savers attract - which happens often - it is possible for them to learn to work together, she said. Take the Palmers' money personality quiz at themoneycouple.com.

But to make it work, both people have to compromise.

"If one is acquiescing, it won't work long-term," Hayden said.

3. Consider what system makes the most sense for you

Although there's not a "best" way to arrange things, Hayden thinks couples should share at least some money. "They have to have a place to practice money as a couple," Hayden said. "They have to."

She favors "mine, yours, ours" accounts that include a shared pool of money for shared expenses. Over time, the system expands and becomes more interrelated.

If neither partner has a strong opinion about how to combine finances, Palmer suggests putting all the money together in one account off the bat.

4. Have monthly money meetings

Two people adding to and subtracting from an account independent of each other is a recipe for overdraw fees. So both must come together for a regularly scheduled meeting to stay abreast of account balances and discuss upcoming expenses, said Palmer, who calls them "money huddles" in her book.

"It's so easy for secrets to start when one person is managing the money, which we call 'financial infidelity,'" Palmer said.

The meetings are also a good place to discuss long-term planning and savings goals.