Last weekend was Financial Independence Awareness Day, so we wanted to take time out to talk to you about money within marriage and how financial independence isn’t as simple as just having separate accounts.
How often do you argue about money with your spouse? Chances are, you’re not actually arguing about money, but what that money means. Depending on a person’s personality and how they’ve grown up, money can have significantly different meanings to an individual.
How do you think the following couples will resolve their differences:
· If one believes money is to be enjoyed and the other believes it needs to be saved for the future?
· If one believes they have a right to choose how the money is spend because they earned it, but their partner is a stay at home parent who sacrificed their career to stay home with the kids?
Finding the best solution for your family, like these couples, will likely be unique to the situation, but with work it can be possible to find that happy medium once both of members of the partnership understand what ‘Money’ really means. For many couples financial independence means having separate bank accounts, but that won’t necessarily resolve your problems. Whether your finances are separated or together, arguments about money won’t be resolved until you both understand and empathise with what money means to the other.
Even if you’re an established couple, money is often a source of conflict. Arguments around money are often dismissed as a small problem initially, but later blow up to create major complications within the relationship. Burgoyne (2010) found that ‘a couple’s financial practices can both ... affect the stability of the relationship and their commitment to it’ (2010, p. 3). So, as money problems may eventually jeopardise the relationship, if it’s causing you stress, then it may be best to seek help.
In Australia, there has been a significant rise in couples separating their finances (Singh, 2011). However, having separate finances doesn’t mean independence. Sweden is a country that rates much happier on happiness scales than Australia. It is also a place where gender equality is the stated belief and intention; however, due to it being socially expected that women take care of the daily finances, women end up paying for family and child expenses out of their personal account, limiting or preventing them from being able to spend money on themselves and causing them to ask for money from their husbands (Nyman, 1999). This inevitably lead to a sense of inequality within relationships that threatened them long-term.
So, what should you do if your partner wants to separate the finances? Is it a sign that they’re planning to leave or that they’re no longer committed to the relationship? The answer very much depends on what is going on in your relationship right now. In studies, participants who asked for separation of finances didn’t want to leave they wanted to have more ‘freedom of personal spending’ and ‘flexibility to deal with split and multiple responsibilities’ (Singh, 2011, p.13). So don’t start worrying yet, but maybe do research out for help to figure out the next steps, so both members of your partnerships ends up with what they need.
So don’t start worrying yet, but maybe do research out for help to figure out the next steps, so both members of your partnerships ends up with what they need.
If you’re relationship is struggling because of arguments about money, we recommend seeking out a counsellor of financial planner to help you figure it out. Or you can also attend an intensive financial counselling workshop, like LOVE AND FINANCE. There are options.
Burgoyne, Carole Bourne, Reibstein, Janet, Edmunds, Anne Mary, & Routh, David Anthony. (2010). Marital commitment, money and marriage preparation: What changes after the wedding? Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 20(5), 390–403. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.1045
Nyman, Charlott. (1999). Gender Equality in ‘The Most Equal Country in the World’? Money and Marriage in Sweden. The Sociological Review (Keele), 47(4), 766–793. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-954X.00195
Singh, Supriya, & Morley, Clive. (2011). Gender and financial accounts in marriage. Journal of Sociology (Melbourne, Vic.), 47(1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783310386824