‘I want to spend my life with him — but can’t we keep our money separate?’
The Washington Post
Q: Do you think couples need to combine money to have a healthy marriage? I’m getting married in two months and we are considering keeping everything totally separate. He makes a lot more than me and spends a lot more than me, and I just feel more comfortable not getting annoyed by his spending. Also, he has student loans and I do not.
A: There are no “shoulds” here, and even if there were, my guess is you’d want financial advice from someone who doesn’t routinely find forgotten cash in her coat pocket. But here’s the deal from a psychological standpoint: a satisfying marriage means that you share your lives, your dreams, your plans and your setbacks. Many of these, like it or not, involve money.
So, while the ins and outs of who has what account number may vary (and indeed, some couples find relief in having certain money in individual accounts), it’s nonetheless going to be counterproductive to take the stand that everything is separate. This isn’t just because of day-to-day tediousness, though that’s significant (do you go halfsies on orange juice? The unexpected new roof?). Rather, it’s because of the mentality of marriage. Individual debt and unwise spending hold both of you back, and individual triumphs are something for a couple to celebrate, together. Why cut each other off from the joint experience?
Q: My boyfriend went through an awful time with his ex-wife, years of marriage counselling that did nothing. This has made him think all counsellors and therapists are quacks. I have been seeing a therapist on and off for problems with body image and eating that I developed years ago in college. He recently found out and is very against it. He says I’m wasting my money and that his “goal” is to get me to stop. I am tempted to tell him I stopped but I know this is not a long-term solution. How do I get him to see that this is right for me?
A: So, because he was in a marriage that was unworkable, an entire branch of health care must be fraudulent? (Hey, I’ve got spinach in my teeth. So dentistry must be a scam!)
His stance is disturbing not just in its illogic, but also because he is trying to control the way you take care of yourself. How can he object to your doing something that you believe (and that studies agree) is good for your emotional health? And why would he want to? Being so bold as to make it a “goal” to thwart what you consider to be your mental health progress is, honestly, worrisome. You know therapy’s right for you. If he doesn’t trust you on that, you might use some of your therapy time to figure out if it’s the relationship that’s wrong.