When I walked down the aisle and said “I do!” to my best friend over three years ago, I had a million thoughts and emotions running through my head. Finances, however, was not one of those thoughts. Throughout the 5 plus years that we dated before we got married, we rarely discussed finances. In hindsight, “WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!” But at the time, I was in college… he was starting his own business… we were young and in love and that was all that mattered.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to find that financial issues are one of the top reasons for divorce. Take this with a grain of salt, because marrying too young is also a “top” reason. That’s probably a whole other article, but since I was 22 and my husband was 24 when we got married, I have an opinion about that as well.
To give you a bit of background on me… I am very much an independent woman. Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband, but I didn’t marry him so that he could “take care of me.” I married him so that we could be a team and support each other in every possible way. I will admit, during our first year of marriage, it took a bit of trial and error to decide how to do our finances, but looking back, it was a small price to pay. Our marriage really has thrived and our relationship has grown even stronger, and I absolutely attribute a portion of that to us figuring out the “right way” (for us) to handle our finances.
I know some women may cringe at the thought of this, but the majority of the time that we go out to eat, I am the one picking up the bill at the dinner table. And this isn’t because my husband is not a gentleman – it’s because that is one of my financial responsibilities for our family. I will tell you, however, that it gets slightly annoying when about 95% of the time, our server hands my husband the check.
Another thing that we do differently than most couples is that we do not have a joint checking account. We have a few reasons for this. First, when I go to Target for “one” thing and come out an hour later with a cartful of stuff, I don’t want my husband to feel like I was spending ‘his’ money. And likewise, when my husband goes and purchases hunting gear, I don’t necessarily want him spending ‘my’ money on that. We still run it by each other before we make (most) big purchases, but it’s more of an FYI and not an “asking permission” type of thing. While our checking accounts are separate, we are still married and what’s mine is his and what’s his is mine!
I am not telling you all of this to say you and your spouse should do the same, but that you and your spouse should discuss finances in great detail before you get married. And most importantly I’m telling you this because I think it is OK (great, in fact) to go about your finances in a non-traditional way. Expecting your husband or wife to financially take care of you (when this was not previously discussed), could potentially cause some resentment down the road.
I realize and appreciate that every marriage is unique, but I encourage you to think outside the box and go through as much ‘trial and error’ as you need to figure out the best way for you and your family to handle your finances.