Joint Finances: How Sharing Money Can Bring Couples Closer
December 7, 2017
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There’s a reason the divorce rate hovers around 40 to 50 percent at any given time. Marriage is hard, and it often comes with issues you can’t foresee. You marry “in sickness and in health” and “for rich or for poor,” but that doesn’t mean you actually expect the worst-case scenario to happen. And when life gives you lemons, divorce is often the easiest way out.
Then again, there are ways to set yourself up for success. And, if you believe the many, many studies on the topic, you probably already know that being on solid financial footing is one of them.
A recent study from SunTrust Bank showed that financial stress is one of the biggest issues in marriage, for example. And among respondents in the 44 to 54 age range, 44 percent said money was the primary cause of their relationship woes.
Another study published in the journal Family Relations has even gone as far as stating that arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce. The study, which looked at 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households, was conducted by Dr. Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning at Kansas State University.
“It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women,” she told Psych Central.
4 Reasons to Share Money with a Spouse
With these statistics in mind, it’s more important than ever to get on the same page as your spouse when it comes to financial matters. And, like it or not, one of the best ways to do this is to actively share joint accounts, make all your financial decisions together, and consult one another before making purchases over a certain limit.
Not only will talking about money bring you closer, but there are other benefits to be gained as well. Here’s why joining forces with your spouse should entail joining accounts – or at least being completely transparent about all financial matters:
#1: Sharing finances makes financial infidelity less likely to occur.
A 2016 study from CreditCards.com showed that up to 13 million adults committed financial infidelity – a term used to describe situations where one spouse keeps separate bank accounts or credit cards secret from the other.
It’s no wonder couples argue about money and experience financial stress when so many are living secret lives and possibly spending family cash in ways that don’t benefit everyone.
Obviously, this is one area where sharing accounts or getting up close and personal with your spouse about money can have positive effects on your relationship. By sharing all accounts – or at least having both names on all accounts – it makes it a lot easier for both spouses to monitor all spending and, on the flip side, a lot harder to hide purchases or bank accounts from one another.
With fewer opportunities to be secretive, you’ll be in a better position to be open and honest. And, let’s face it; honesty is always good for a marriage.
#2: You can dream together!
Here’s a benefit of sharing finances that may be slightly harder to measure – you get the opportunity to plan your future and dream together. While keeping finances separate instills a “yours” and “mine” mentality, sharing finances forces you to come up with joint goals and strategize how to reach them together.
Imagine how different it might be saving for a house as a couple who shares finances versus a couple who doesn’t. The couple who keeps their money separate might squabble over how much to spend – especially if one makes more than the other. They might bicker over who pays more of the payment, as well as the splitting of utilities, upgrades, maintenance and repairs.
A couple who shares finances and financial responsibilities would likely approach the situation differently – mostly because all of their money is “theirs.” They wouldn’t have to argue over what’s fair; instead, they would focus on what they could afford and finding the best house for their needs that also fits the family budget.
The bottom line: When you aren’t arguing over the details of what’s fair, you can really dream together. And those dreams can bring you closer and help grow your love that much deeper.
#3: Sharing finances helps you become a team.
Marriage is hard enough without working against one another. But, learning to share finances and get on the same page when it comes to money can absolutely force you to work as a team.
Sharing money can help you learn to draft plans and goals together, then come up with ideas on how to get there. You can lean on each of your talents and learn to use them to your advantage. If one of you is better at daily budgeting and the other is better at negotiating on big ticket items, for example, sharing finances will make this abundantly clear. As a team, you can learn to use this information and other data to your advantage.
#4: You learn to compromise.
Last but not least, sharing finances with your partner teaches you the valuable lesson of compromise. You can have some of what you want, but not all of what you want. And when you’re married, you often need to put “us” before your individual needs.
This is one area where sharing money and being transparent is extremely important. Couples who don’t share finances can and often do spend their money on whatever they want with no regard to how it affects the other person. Not only can this put you behind on your joint financial goals like saving for a house or retirement, but it reinforces the idea that you’re in the marriage for yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you want to avoid petty arguments over money and the power struggles that inevitably come with keeping separate accounts, consider combining your finances or at least making them transparent and easily accessible.
Marriage is hard enough without worrying over where the money is going or whether you’re meeting your goals as a team. While joint finances may be harder to manage at times, the lessons you’re forced to learn might help you achieve the ultimate goal of marriage - staying married.