I am engaged to be married to a wonderful man who I’ve been dating for several years. We maintain separate finances, as we felt it was important not to get too entangled before deciding if we wanted to spend our lives together. I recently brought up the subject of our money becoming joint after getting married and my fiancé seemed to think we would keep it separate forever. He wants to continue each paying for 50% of our lives. We would split a future mortgage, each pay for our own vehicles, cover half of the home’s expenses, etc.
Lola, I am shocked and a bit irritated! We are planning to build a life and a family together.
I earn less money than my fiancé and I’ve already had to skip going on vacations with him due to earning less money. I pay for half of our apartment, even though it’s not one I would have chosen on my own since it is pricier than I prefer and takes a large chunk of my income. I also have stayed home from dinner with friends when I cannot spare the money. I should note that I am very responsible with my income and I have no debt other than a car payment, which is for an economical car and not something extravagant. My fiancé is also debt-free with very few extravagant hobbies, except for his love of traveling. This whole situation has left me feeling like a gold digger who is intent on stealing his money.
Is there any way to maintain separate finances and have this marriage work?
Marrying for Money
Dear Marrying for Money,
I’m going to give you a simplified answer first. Yes, many people maintain separate finances and have successful marriages. That being said, those partners both agree to the situation and negotiate a fair setup. Some have a joint account where each partner puts in a specified percentage of their income – this account then pays for the mortgage or rent, any household expenses, groceries, and other house incidentals that arise. However, this situation is best used when both partners are earning a similar salary or have outside financial obligations to consider (like alimony or child support payments).
I do not think your situation will remain argument free for very long.
Eating dinner alone while your partner is out to dinner with friends will be noted by those friends. They will have pity for the person sitting at home, while they secretly judge the partner they are spending time with. While this is a common situation among people who are dating, it is much less common for spouses to spend time with other couples when one person is sitting at home.
Your social group will exclude you both, thanks to this uncomfortable situation you’ve forced upon them.
When one partner goes on vacation, leaving the other behind, bitter feelings will start to develop. Part of being married is experiencing life together. One spouse having tales to talk about at dinner will render his partner silently clutching a fork and resisting the urge to stab someone with it.
I imagine blood splatter will ruin the romance in a hurry.
Speaking of ruined romance, one day the Miniature Humans will begin to arrive. Someone will surely have to take at least a few weeks off work in order to get them situated – leaving that person without an income. I’m assuming this will be you, Marrying for Money, because you will need time to recover from giving birth.
Prepare to feel very poor for the next 18 years.
The Mini Human will eventually get sick and not be able to attend school. Someone must lose time at work, leaving them in a worse financial position than the partner who was able to stay at work and earn their full wage. Who will pay for all the extracurricular activities that the Mini Human wants to join?! Who will sacrifice and buy the bigger vehicle should the word ‘triplets’ be used during your pregnancy?! How will you divide up the cost of Harvard?!
You have ruined this Mini Human’s life before she is even born!
Ok, I’ll bring it back to your current reality now that I’ve made you panic and burst into tears. Separate finances can work. Both partners must agree to the terms and be fully committed to making it successful. However, you should not get married unless you know for a fact that your fiancé will renegotiate this in the future, should you ask him to. Life changes in an instant – your fiancé may be losing sight of the possibility that he could lose his job tomorrow and you’ll still be there to make sure he is fed and housed.
Make sure he would do the same for you before you say your vows.
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