Posted by Shelly Eweka.
They say that sharing is caring. But does using your other half’s ATM card indicate TLC? Is it healthy for even joined-at-the-hip married couples to reveal everything—including each other’s financial indiscretions?
Here are seven reasons why sharing a bank account could be great for your marriage:
- It fosters fairness. Arguing about money is one of the leading causes of marital strife. In a recent survey, 53% of divorcees said they were not financially compatible with their former spouse; 59% said finances played a role in their divorce.1 The beauty of a joint account is that it forces you to make decisions together, to divide the bills fairly. The topic never grows to elephant-in-the-room dimensions, since it’s always tackled head-on.
- It encourages openness. 71% of divorced women said their spouse’s spending habits turned out to be different from what they expected when tying the knot.1 Think of all the relationships that might have been saved with more of a commitment to openness and financial transparency.
- It affirms your wedding vow “for richer, for poorer.” Remember, all that you earn as a married person is considered marital property in the eyes of the law. Some states regard your pooled wealth as “community property”—there’s a 50/50 split down the middle of every nickel and knickknack you acquire while married. Marriage is a joint undertaking, and that extends to take- home pay.
- It shakes you out of your “me-first” mindset. Marriage is a state that you’re either in or you’re not—you can’t be sort-of married. But getting into a married mindset isn’t something that automatically happens when you exchange rings and vows—it’s something you have to develop, or coax forth. When you’re single, you’re in a more self-centered mindset. You have your own bed, your own account. If you were taught well, you grew up to value financial independence and self-sufficiency—not rely on someone else. But being part of a team means your financial goals are now aligned with someone else’s. Sharing a bank account can help ease you into that marriage mindset.
- It lets you play to your strengths. Sharing bank accounts can be challenging when one spouse has a totally different philosophy about money. (I’ve written elsewhere about discussing money when your spouse is on another planet). However, don’t we seek in a partner the very qualities we ourselves lack? Don’t we look for strengths that complement our own? Book worms appeal to party animals; bad cooks fall for good ones. Opposites attract because they balance each other out. My husband does not want deal with paying bills— and so, he was relieved to start sharing the burden with someone else.
- It builds trust: My husband and I started out with a joint account, with the intention of splitting everything down the middle. We assumed that’s the way it was meant to be, like sharing a bed. While we never closed our joint account, we did evolve into a situation where certain expenses are handled separately. I have set our joint expenses up automatically, i.e. mortgages, bills, savings. We buy stuff on our own, but use the same account. Learning to trust him and his spending choices has only helped bolster our relationship—after all, trust is the bedrock of any great marriage.
- It teaches you to negotiate—and compromise. When my husband spends too much on a coffee or shirt, I’ve simply learned to let it go. Monitoring your mate’s every purchase can get toxic fast. Better to pick your battles and negotiate just the big-ticket acquisitions: Buying a car, going on vacation. We set a dollar limit on what’s worth talking about. Every couple’s limit will be different. Does a new pair of curtains justify a kitchen-table conversation? That’s up to you and yours to decide. Be flexible: You don’t have to stick with a joint arrangement if you see it’s not working out.
With communication problems the number one cause of divorce, open dialogue is your bulwark against festering resentment and bitter recriminations. For many couples, having a joint account is one way to guarantee that line of communication never closes.