Marriage statistics will tell you that one of the top reasons people divorce is because of money. Either one person wants to spend, spend, spend and the other is the opposite, or there just isn’t enough and people get so stressed out they can’t find their happy place and eventually turn on each other.
I can say definitively that my husband and I have never fought about money. That’s not to say he and I haven’t made casual remarks to each other, but we’ve never knock down drag out fought about money at all. For the most part, we’re on the same financial page and we always have been. I know it’s not that easy for some folks though and there are varying degrees of tolerance as to what an individual will accept to be with the person they love.
I see a lot of women “asking” their husbands if they can buy things and then, on the rare occasion I see a man asking his wife if she can buy something. I don’t like that, regardless of the gender of the person asking. Everyone needs to be on the same page with the budget and there needs to be limits set. I am not saying not to consult your spouse, but don’t confuse consulting a spouse with asking a spouse.
Some of the strongest couples I’ve met don’t ask permission, but they do let each other know when they’re going to purchase something. The amount is of varying degrees based on their finances. For some people, $30 or more is a need to consult a spouse. For others, it’s only on larger purchases that they feel inclined to tell each other what they’re buying. For me, I try to consult Ryan when it’s something frivolous so he’s aware. I consult him so he has the opportunity to remind me about something I am not thinking about – like the fact we’ve already spent the fun money budget, for example. If he doesn’t say anything, I go about my business. He’s not the be all end all though. If he doesn’t respond, I have enough financial awareness that I will decide myself if I want something badly enough to spend the money on it.
This sounds like asking, right? Except it’s not. It’s different in a fundamental way.
Asking implies you need permission. Asking implies the money is not yours to spend and therefore you need someone else to tell you it’s appropriate to do so. Asking creates an imbalance in a marriage the same way an allowance can create an imbalance.
In most situations where I see wives asking for money, it’s because they’re stay at home moms, so they have no income coming in. The “ask” for money is because they don’t have funds of their own. Let’s not forget why they don’t have funds though – because they’re doing a job that is typically extremely stressful, thankless and ultimately, supporting a household that would not be able to run in as efficient a manner without them. They’re absolutely doing work, often giving up careers to do so. So why do they need permission to buy something or spend money from the JOINT budget? It’s situations like this that I do not care for that approach because it indicates on person controls all the money and the other person doesn’t have as much of a role. This can be debilitating in a marriage and can cause stress. If both people aren’t on the same page, it’s easy for someone to unknowingly do something that will cause issues in the marriage unintentionally. These types of things can build resentment amongst spouses and ultimately cause tension.
That’s not to say that these things are not without merit, but I think many of these things are specific to a situation. If you’ve got an over spender, it might be good to get them on an allowance so they’ve still got control over their money, but they’re not wreaking havoc on the family and all bills are met. I’m not of the opinion that this is necessary all the time though and in most cases I’ve personally seen, it’s an imbalance between two spouses.
At the end of the day, we’ve got to do what’s best in our own marriage, whether that be joint accounts or separate, consulting on all purchases or not, carrying cash and never using a credit card, etc. Some things can make life easier than others. Open lines of communication are the best lines of communication and ensure that at the very least, you know where the other person stands.