I'm an entrepreneur who has been making six figures for many years. So the idea of sharing my hard earned dollars wasn't very appealing at first. I wanted a prenuptial agreement. I had already advised my lawyer of my intent to protect my assets. However, one night in marriage counseling, I had a come to Jesus moment. See, the idea of potentially losing everything if we were to get divorced was petrifying! Growing up I was taught to keep a stash! You know, just in case! I was taught that the stash ministry kept you safe. Our marriage counselor said "Well, don't get married!" It was my Eureka moment!
I'm all for pooling resources but what happens when one person income surpasses their spouse? How should we divide the bills, should we join our bank accounts or keep them separate? So many questions to consider!
We couldn't have figured out the answers to these questions on our own. We were lucky. Our marriage counselors walked us though this topic. Here's what's we learned about finances within marriage:
1. Stashing hurts your marriage
Great marriages are built on trust. Having secret accounts or hiding money in a shoebox will erode trust because your spouse will find out! Why would you want to share a bed with someone you don't feel comfortable sharing your money? How would you feel if your spouse withheld money from you?
Ultimately, we decided to join our money together and pay all of our bills from that account. However, I have a business account, brokerage account and investments that he is aware of but is not on the accounts because they were acquired prior to our marriage. But it's not a secret. I'm not saving money in case we don't make it. Stashing is deception. If you lay everything on the table before the marriage that is not operating in dishonesty. If you are keeping a stash you can expect you will eventually use it .
2. Sharing finances fosters communication
Having a joint account means we have to communicate with each other. Our rule is any purchases over $1,000 must be discussed. Sharing money requires a level of trust on both sides. It tells the other person you have faith in their judgement and that you trust they will not put you into financial ruin.
3. It makes you vulnerable
If you read this blog regularly, you have read both my husband and myself speak about the power of vulnerability within our marriage. Financial transparency is truly an exercise in being vulnerable. When I got engaged to Edward, he gave me his social security number and I ran a background check and credit check (we got engaged on our first date so I needed to know he wasn't an ax murderer with a 400 credit score). I did not ask him for his social. He freely gave it to me. It showed me he wanted to give me all the knowledge I needed in order to trust that he was who he presented himself to be. It established a level of trust that I had never experienced with a man. It made me more comfortable disclosing my finances because he had already modeled the way.
At the end of of the day, there isn't one way to handle marital finances. You have to find what is comfortable for both parties. I don't believe in 50/50 relationships in general. I could have a roommate for that! We have decided that we will both give 100% in our marriage and finances. He pays our bills from the joint account. He contributes. I contribute. It's what works for us. The key is communication. Discuss your fears around money. I had to uncover some deep notions I was holding onto from past programming. With respect, love and honest communication you will settle on how to manage your finances as a couple.
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