Keeping Finances Separate and not Discussing Money can be a Problem for Couples

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm
They say that the most common cause of divorce and marital problems is money. When this issue comes up with my clients, it is a touchy subject, as you can imagine. I mean, I’m a financial counselor, not a marriage counselor, and the last thing I want to do is cause disharmony in a matrimonial situation. But I see that a lot of issues come up when married people keep their finances separate from their spouse’s and never discuss money.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the only way two people can exist together is to keep their money separate. But it definitely can cause problems if you go about it the wrong way.
Here’s what I mean: A client named Russell told me how he and his wife keep their finances totally separate to the point that they had no idea how much the other made, or what each did with their money. They split the rent and the household bills down the middle, but other than that, it was each one for themselves.
Russell complained to me that he was always short from payday to payday, and his wife was always borrowing money from him.
I said to him, “Russell, let me ask you this, do you guys ever talk about money?”
“The only time we talk about money is when she asks to borrow it, or I have to ask her for it back,” he said.
There you go. If communication is supposed to be so important in a relationship, and if money is the biggest cause for problems in a relationship, then call me crazy, but it’s probably something that should be discussed.
I tell clients like Russell to try something different. Open a bank account in both your names, maybe one that requires both spouse’s signatures to withdraw money from it. That way there’s no possibility for a problem. Talk about how much to put into it and how often. Make a plan for the money, maybe to pay for a vacation. Just do something small to get yourselves working together on the finances and talking about them. And go from there.
Because if what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to do something different. Like Einstein said, The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

  1. Yep, I recently got married and we have three accounts; his, mine, and ours. We each throw half in the joint and pay the bills with those funds. That way, if I want to buy a ridiculously expensive purse, it comes from my money. If he wants to buy (insert boy item here), it’s from his money. It makes life easier.

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