Marriage, Combined Finances and Working Together

money relationships

How a couple manages their money together is a hot topic. Some prefer individual accounts while others do everything jointly. Given that money is one of the number one causes of marriages (or long-term relationships) failing, it’s something that has to be taken seriously and most importantly, talked about.

Though money gets the bad reputation for relationships failing, I think the cause should actually be a breakdown in communication. Money didn’t do anything to cause your relationship to fail, but we, as hurting humans, can’t always admit when we did something wrong, that something being lack of proper communication. We failed ourselves and our relationship, admit it and leave money out of it. Money is what we place the blame on.

Sharing money in Marriage

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My Relationships With Money and My Husband

I’m a bit of an anomaly when it comes to this topic. I’ve been with my husband since I was a kid. We were 16 when we started dating, the same time we were beginning to make our own money and grow up. Until we lived together what we did with our money was very much mine and his. I had no idea how much he made, what debts he was incurring or how responsible he was. Same for him, though he had a vague idea of the borrowing I did to fund my post secondary, it wasn’t until we moved in together that we had ”the talk”.

He asked me to marry him one beautiful May evening and I immediately felt the need to disclose my $77,000 deficit bank account. He insured me he didn’t care and that we would work on it together. He had some debt but I was the bugger anchor. From that moment on our money was just that, our money. We joint everything. We feel that we equally contribute to our household and so pool all our money together and equally decide how it’s spent.

This isn’t easy.

Especially now that we’re adults and have matured into the people we are today, some days I wish I managed MY money and didn’t have to talk to anyone about it. But guess what? This is my marriage, our money and how we have decided to work on things. There is 100% transparency with our money, not because of any trust issues but because for us, it’s easier to see where every, single, dollar is going. I don’t have to chase him for bills or worry if something got paid, this system works for us but I can totally respect couples who don’t do things this way.

Do What Works for You

This system, though not always easy, works for us. Having said this, if, as the woman I am today, was just starting a new relationship I don’t know that I would manage my finances the same. I feel like I would be more for separate accounts. Once you’ve committed to joint everything there is no turning back.

I have friends who are perfectly happy and honest about their finances though they have totally separate finances with their spouse. They make it work.

I also have friends who have totally separate finances and both spouses are 100% dishonest with their spending. Everything from secret credit cards, debts the other is unaware of and frequent missed payment responsibilities.

No one system is the answer. The answer is to talk about money regularly regardless on the system you choose to use. A long term committed relationship is something that deserves respect, as does money. If you treat both with equal respect things will be much easier. If you find yourself in a situation that requires help, ask for it. There is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it either. Ask a friend, family member or professional. It took my husband and I over a year to admit that we were slowing getting in over our heads due to a combination of maternity leaves, cut in pay and disorganization. We swallowed our pride, accepted that we were going no where, fast, alone and accepted the help that was offered to us.

Our money, and overall life, and most importantly marriage has never been better.


20 thoughts on “Marriage, Combined Finances and Working Together

  1. I completely agree with your philosophy. I am not sure how you can be married and have a successful relationship if you do not combine your finances. How people can have sex, but they can’t combine their bank accounts fascinates me. Anyway, best wishes on a strong marriage.

  2. Catherine!!! we have a change jar that looks just like that!! Hold on. Oh, ours is still there, thank goodness! Tammy and married with debt too, mostly credit card debt. Then we went on to buy cars and a house. That was really stupid, but we are down to 2 loans away for being debt free and one of them is about to get slayed!!! A brilliant post on the subject, Catherine!

  3. My husband and I are on the shared expenses train even though we just got married. We’re big on transparency and try not to spend frivolously. I think it’s important to be in the same boat financially when married but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I’m the one with the large amount of debt (student loans) in our marriage but my husband knew about that before we even got engaged so as they say, love can trump all! It also helps that I am very responsible with money now so he knows I’m serious about getting those student loans paid off.

  4. Agree! I have never seen the point to having separate bank accounts. I published something along similar lines two years ago and one of the comments was: wait till it gets to divorce. OK, I didn;t get married with a divorce in mind; in my book this is hedging gone too far. We do have some money is separate accounts, though – this way we can buy each other presents without embarrasment.

    • Haha, seriously? Who gets married waiting for divorce…sad. As for the gifts, we set a budget and take out cash or sometimes play the ”dont log into online banking for like 2 days” game 🙂

  5. I think it first off depends on how the income is set up. If only one individual is working then everything should be in a joint account. If both have jobs, a joint account for all the common bills would be good but otherwise I don’t see an issue with having separate accounts.

    • We both work full-time and have our pays deposited into the same account. I don’t have an issue with separate accounts as long as both parties are on the same page and there are no ”secrets”. Whatever makes a relationship successful is fine by me!

  6. We have been on a joint account after we decided to marry and it has been working pretty well with us. We usually communicate on our expenses and this keeps both of us updated when it comes to money. Again it depends on person to person if they would like to continue with individual accounts after marriage or go for a joint account

  7. I like your point about money getting all the blame when communication is just as important. I also think that money brings out our selfishness so easily and we’re able to mask it in other areas of our lives. Keeping joint finances is an exercise in putting our spouse’s needs and wants ahead of our own, which is tough!

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