I don’t know how much money my husband has…

and I like it that way.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It is true. I have no clue what my husband has in his bank accounts. I do not know the amount of his monthly income or investments. I know that he has enough money to cover his monthly obligations and keep us, along with my income, in the lifestyle we are accustomed to.

I can hear you screaming at your screen, “Are you crazy?” Hold on, hear me out.

We lived together for two years before we decided to get married and we had a simple agreement about who paid what expenses. We talked about what had to be paid and decided who paid what. It was sort of like a verbal back and forth tennis game. You take that bill and I will take this one. We each continued to pay the expenses we had before we got together, like cell phones and credit cards. We didn’t cut expenses exactly in half, but pretty close to half. If an unexpected bill or expense came up we discussed it and decided a plan of action together.

A study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that 36.1 % of divorces were caused by money problems. Some respondents said money though a contributing factor were not “the most pertinent reason for divorce.” The money issues “contributed to increased stress and tension within the relationship.”

With divorce rates in the United States the 40–50% range and the fact that my husband and I have been married before, as he likes to say, to the wrong people, we wanted to eliminate as many of the reasons for divorce from the start. We did what most people do when they decide to get married. We discussed goals and where we wanted our future to go. We both had our own established income, investments, savings and checking accounts before we moved in together. We made a pact, we would not argue about money. Instead, we would communicate clearly and decide collaboratively. We would put our commitment to each other and love first. Even when it came to important things like money.

After we got married we decided that our system was working. We had all we needed, bills got paid and needs were filled. Never once did he or I ask the value of the other’s net worth. We did not run out and get joint accounts. We did change our beneficiaries and permissions on all our accounts to make sure that if one of us had an emergency we could gain access to funds. We both have living and last wills.

Money does not have to be in the center of your marriage or relationship. You can have a successful marriage without managing money the way everyone else does it. There is nothing that says one spouse must pay the bills and manage the budget. We continue to manage our own budgets and meet in the middle when something comes up that is out of the norm.

The result, money is not a point of tension. We actually have healthier finances than in the past. We are generous to each other. We see needs and fill them without the normal stress that comes from managing shared accounts.

You and your spouse are unique. Your marriage is one of a kind. Why put your money in the same format, like joint accounts and budgets, that 31.6% who let money problems contribute to divorce?

The secret is clear and consistent communication.

~Lori O’Gara

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