The Case Against Separate Bank Accounts for Marriage Partners

By: Beaule Agerter

Trust is a major issue in today's society. In the absence of trust there is fear. In marriage is trust earned? If so, then what brings the lovers together in the first place? In marriage, trust is assumed, and then either nurtured through loyal experience or lost through betryal. Can you have a healthy marriage where fear replaces trust? What message is given when spouses have separate money?

"When you get married you become one." "Money is a key area that helps bring unity." "When you handle your money together, you are agreeing on your hopes, dreams and goals." -David Ramsey, Financial Expert

"Dave (Ramsey), on the other hand, recommends Christian principals of a couple becoming one. He says spouses should combine all finances and work together towards a common agreed upon goal. He tells people to work together on a household budget and a piece of that budget should be spending money. This way, all money decisions are made together and nobody feels like they are earning less...There are several flaws I see with the separate money method...Separate money equals separate lives. When married, you are in it for the long haul. Your life plans should be agreed upon with your spouse...What if one spouse ends up staying home to raise kids? Then what? Does this mean that they are broke and the other spouse is in control? I don't think so...Separate money equals greed. When spouses have separate money and separate financial goals, they can easily end up greedy...The bottom line is this: couples that plan their lives and finances together are much more successful financially and with their relationships. This involves a lot of work, communication, understanding and patience; but it's well worth it." --Marriage and Money - Dave Ramsey vs. Suze Orman, March 20, 2012, 6:43 am

It may be easier to fear than to trust. Which is more worthwhile? Which builds healthier relationships? If we feel comfortable protecting what we view as "mine" from the risk of sharing with our spouse, is the work required to exercise trust worth it?

"There is no I. Marriage is all about the "we". It's not "your" money or "my" money, it's "our" money. It isn't your retirement, it's our retirement." "Communicate. Marriage isn't easy, especially when you're talking about money. But even if none of the other stuff I've mentioned clicks with you, then you should at least take one thing with you from this post: communication is key. You might not track your money or save anything or cook together. But you better communicate or else your marriage is going to be a train wreck." --What Marriage Has Taught Me About Money, Published on - February 23rd, 2010 (Modified on - March 12th, 2010) by J.D. Roth

At stake here is the marriage itself. Statistics overwhelmingly show that money is by far the major source of divorce. There is allot of divorce- so what is the key to making money work for a happy marriage?

"Divorce attorneys have told me that when money is the issue that brings a couple in to see them, as is it often is, the specific issue is usually that the husband and wife were living separate financial lives. Want to mess up your marriage? Live separate financial lives. What's yours is yours, what's mine is mine. I don't care how many people have gotten on the separate accounts bus. I'm clinging to my quaint, clearly out-of-fashion point of view...And here's where I've really gone off the deep end. I have this odd point of view that if one person had a lot of debt before getting married, after the wedding, both spouses have a lot of debt. If one was rich before the wedding day, the minute the vows have been said, both spouses are rich...Bizarre thinking, I realize." --How to Mess Up Your Marriage, Monday, December 12th, 2011, Matt Bell, author of Money and Marriage.

Careers, friends, peers, bank accounts, etc. Each and all pull at the fabric of a committed marriage. Separate careers places different pressures on each spouse. Competition for spousal time together versus time spent with separate friends can be harrowing. Separate bank accounts surely only adds to the fractionation already at work on marriages.

"...Independent Operators, my term for pairs who keep their accounts entirely separate." "If you're keeping money completely separate, you probably want to earn and spend at comparable levels, or else things could get uncomfortable." "Research suggests that when low-income couples have kids, their relationships tend to suffer when they keep their money separate. A recent study of couples with children in the journal Family Relations shows that couples who earn less than $50,000 and have independent money management systems '"reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction and less agreeable methods of resolving conflicts than when couples share a joint account."' "Another study...showed that married couples who kept money separate were more likely to split." -Jessica Crouse

"Separate accounts...don't encourage resolve their differences." --Divine Caroline

" can cause too much strain and end up breaking a relationship." --Melinda Donovan

Its not just about separate money. The more important point is communication. Does separate bank accounts encourage joint money decision making? What about joint responsibility? Committment requires risk and thrives on trust.

There was a common thread among both shared-account cheerleaders and naysayers: Couples needed to communicate about money lest it tear a marriage apart." --The Juggle, Do Money and Marriage Mix? July 30, 2012, 10:00 AM

"One of the basic rules of marriage that we were introduced to in premarital counseling: Don't Keep Track. Life is not 50:50, nor should it be...when did this degrade from a marriage to a micromanaged contractual partnership?...I see a continuum from the first bit of separate money in a marriage to basically living as roomates." -Evolving Personal Finance: The Slippery Slope of Separate Money

There seems to be two prevailing views about money in marriage. Here are some that favor sharing between spouses:

"Readers had strong views on keeping finance separate. Many went as far as to say that couples who keep separate finances aren't fully committed to their unions:

'"Why even get married in the first place? Marriage is about trust and compromise, two people as one,"' wrote Thomas Huynh.

'"It's clear to me that this type of arrangement [sic] is focused on 'assets' and 'accounts' and 'money' and 'things'..not on love, or family or health or happiness...they are definitely NOT a 'couple',"' wrote Nora Leen.

Faith-based marriages can be well served by the biblical view:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:6).

"Money is one of the major causes of friction in a marriage, and it's no wonder. Living in a world in which we are constantly worried about taking care of ourselves, it's easy to forget that marriage is a commitment to forge a new life with another person. The lack of trust emerging from society has created prenuptial agreements and separate bank accounts. These undermine the commitment to a shared life with a spouse and are contrary to biblical teachings...A husband's and wife's incomes in marriage should be merged and shared. Someone should be in charge of keeping a budget for the household, and whatever funds there are should be held mutually. This will require a lot of faith in the Lord, as well as in your spouse." -Focus On The Family, Marriage & Relationships, Money and Marriage, Copyright ? 2008, Crown Financial Ministries.

A couple, Dustin and Bethany, make the following claims regarding sharing money between spouses:

"Reasons Why a Joint Bank Account is Best-

Encourages regular communication about finances
Built-in accountability partner on spending matters
Fosters unity in money matters
Strong sense of working together to meet financial goals
Clear that all household income is treated as "our" money
No conflict or administrative work in "splitting up the bills"
Dave Ramsey says this is best, and we all love Dave, right?

Personally, Bethany and I use a single, joint checking account and feel that is absolutely perfect for us...The main reason that we choose to keep a joint bank account is our belief in unity. We believe that when you get married, you become one, and money is a key area where this is lived out. There is no "yours, mine and ours" but only "ours." When you handle your money together, you are agreeing on your hopes, dreams and goals together. The use of a single joint account also encourages (requires, really) open communication about your finances, which is absolutely critical to a successful marriage...The key is to operate your finances in a unified way with open communication at all times...And remember that your motivation should be one of unity. That will keep you in the black and out of the red in more ways than one." --Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? By Dustin of Engaged Marriage.

Sometimes old fashion values work best, as related by Greg:
"Call me weird, but I just don't understand the logic of this. Call me old-fashioned, but I think marriage should be a partnership. Call me crazy, but I think separating your finances is a bad idea. I have to admit, before we got married the thought of keeping our finances separate didn't even cross my mind. It didn't make sense to me, and it still doesn't. Essentially, you are saying to each other is "I mostly trust you, but not with my money." With this sort of attitude, how could you possibly fail??? *sarcasm drip, drip* It seems like this sort of arrangement is bound to cause one partner to be resentful of another, which usually means a big 'ol fight.

A marriage team is not unlike most sports teams. When the team is put before the self, the team prospers. When the team communicates with one another, the team wins. So too does the marriage team. When both partners are communicating about their shared finances, then the team becomes stronger - both financially and emotionally. When the team fails to communicate, the team becomes weaker. Whether you like it or not, when you are married your money is the team's money. The faster you get on board with your teammate, the better it will be for all facets of your life...My point is that marriage is a partnership in every way. Why should finances be any different?

No matter the source, financial problems in a marriage are one of the top causes of divorce in America. ...I believe that being on the same page about money is absolutely crucial to a healthy marriage. If you are living separate financial lives, I believe you are headed down a fairly dangerous slope." --Separate Finances: A Recipe for Marital Disaster, By Greg | August 28, 2012 | Debt, Income, Saving Money on Club Thrifty.

So where do you stand on this issue?

Article Directory:

| More

For more information like this go to

Please Rate this Article


Not yet Rated

Click the XML Icon Above to Receive Marriage Articles Articles Via RSS!

Powered by Article Dashboard