At a glance, you would think that a couple that keeps its finances separate would have less to fight about when it comes to money issues. Research has indicated that just the opposite is true. Keeping all of a couple’s finances separated can lead to more misunderstandings in the long run.
Separate Accounts can Mean Less Communication
Many couples in the United States today are comprised of two people with their own careers. In most cases, these professionals prefer to manage their own finances without combining them with their partner’s finances. Each partner is more comfortable having full control of his or her money, and they feel that there is no reason to mix the money. This system is fine for everyday expenses, but it can become a problem when the couple has different ideas of how the money should be spent, especially when considering large joint purchases.
When both partners maintain their own finances that were established before becoming a couple, there is a tendency for each of them to feel that they do not need to discuss financial decisions with each other. This lack of communication about money can lead to huge misunderstandings about different financial priorities. It can also lead to a certain level of dishonesty when one partner does not want to fully disclose his or her spending habits. Keeping the money separate creates an opportunity to cut one another off from the full financial picture on either side, which can create uncertainty and stress in a relationship.
Problems with Big Purchases
Some of the purchases that a couple will eventually make will require input from both of the partners. For example, buying a house usually requires that a couple pool their resources so that they can afford the type of house that they would prefer to live in. It can be difficult to present combined assets when you are looking for a mortgage loan if your assets have been kept strictly separate. There can also be a problem if one partner has been saving money for a smaller house than the other partner has been saving for.
A Compromise Could be Best
Economists and relationship therapists suggest that couples combine some of their finances into a joint account to cover household needs. Each partner could agree to contribute a certain amount to the joint fund each month so that all of the basic needs are met. The couples would have to discuss their joint account and make mutual decisions about their spending, but they could also maintain their separate checking accounts if they prefer. The separate accounts would not hold as much power over the relationship because the joint account would provide everything both partners need.