“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…At some level, power exists in friendship, romance, marriage, and family.” — Guerrero, et al, “Close Encounters: Communications in Relationships”, p. 255
Financial independence among couples is one of the new issue many newly married couples are discussing. Despite the common thought that married couples should share conjugal rights to properties involving assets acquired before marriage, it can be a wise step if the couple remain financially independent. This does not mean encouraging financial secrecy towards each other, but encouraging freedom and autonomy to expenses. This is really important to maintain stability to the family’s expenses and for the future expenses (as the family grows). Here are the reasons why the couples should remain autonomous when it comes to finances:
1. It will allow the couple to adjust to the inter-dependency of expenses, especially if one or both were already financially independent before marriage.
Since marriage is about conjugal rights of both parties’ assets, etc., it is really important to have a smooth transition from single life to married life. In order to achieve that, in the first phase of the married life, the couple should respect the autonomy of one towards his/her expenses and what he/she wishes to spend to it. According to Kelly Long, a CPA at Shephard Schwartz & Harris LLP in Chicago, having separate accounts will allow two people who were independent financially before marriage a sense of autonomy as they slowly adjust to the couplehood.
2. It will equally divide family expenses.
The couple is highly encouraged to have different bank accounts so as to divide the expenses needs fairly. Each one can re-check if finances are available and still stable and are still able to pay his/her part from the entire family expenses. In this way, the couple can agree with each other fairly to what they should be responsible paying for. In a couple, perhaps the other one has more income than the other or has more stable/fixed income than the other.
3. It will encourage responsibility regarding the wife/husband’s debts.
Since the couple has different bank accounts or separate finances/savings, etc., it will encourage the wife/husband to be responsible of paying her/his own debts. Thus, it also promotes discipline of each other towards the spending habits as well. As a result, it will be a more stable family life in terms of expenses and spending discipline. Moreover John Ulzheimer, President of Consumer Education at Smartcredit.com, says that getting into debt is a choice, not a coincidence/accident.
4. It promotes respect to each other in terms of spending habits.
By having different bank accounts, it can highly respect the differences of the habits of the other. For example, the wife may like Chanel bags or other expensive objects while the husband likes to have tools for carpentry, repairs, etc. In this manner, through having independence financially, they can have what they wish to have without harming the other by spending the partner’s money just for their items which he/she may not be agreeable towards.
5. It keeps the relationship healthy.
Ideally, the couple married because they love each other. However, if the they have unstable finances, it might affect each other’s relationship which later on develops to a more serious problem – Divorce. One manner which may help to avoid this is couples being highly encouraged to have separate accounts. This is according to Rosemary Frank, a certified Divorce Financial Analyst in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Possible problems if couples are highly dependent financially:
1. One person may lose their identity is such a relationship.
Because one is dependent on the other in terms of finances, it will also affect the way they behave and interrelate.
2. It promotes inequality in the relationship.
It is really unhealthy for the couples to feel prejudice in some manner. It may be minor or may explode into something major.
3. It will put the wife/husband at high risk when circumstances change.
Loss of job in a single career family, is an example. If both incomes are dependent on one and the other partner doesn’t have resources, they family could be put in a bind during this time.
4. It impairs equal incentive as an individual.
This means that when the other one is financially dependent to his/her wife/husband, it may lessen the incentive of the other to earn and experience confidence and pride from also providing for the family monetarily.
5. It explicitly shows dominance within relationships.
Because of the fact that the other one is unable to spend or to contribute toward the expenses in the family, the other one can easily show dominance over the other. This can cause one to feel demeaned and the other to feel burdened with responsibility.
A piece of advice to married couples:
Ruth Hayden, a financial educator and author in St. Paul, Minnesota, writes that there are many couples who think that they can be actually fair at all times in terms of finances, yet this is impossible. She advises couples to just be clear to their goals as a married couple and move on from there.
Featured photo credit: Dodgerton Skillhause via mrg.bz