The early stages of marriages focus on leaving and cleaving.
Leaving is the process whereby you put space between other bonds, relationships, commitments, and obligations. Cleaving is the process whereby you connect to your spouse in a deeper level. Cleaving can’t happen until the leaving has occurred.
A vital part of the cleaving process is combining bank accounts after marriage. God declares husband and wife as one entity. Newly married couples should seek to be united in all aspects, including their finances. If you decide not to combine your finances, there will likely be a part of financial intimacy that is missing in your relationship.
5 Reasons to Combine Your Bank Accounts
1. It builds trust and total openness.
If I can’t trust you with my money, is there a strong hope for us to become fully one? Lack of trust is a relational parasite that will only grow larger. If you do not trust your spouse, even in one part of your relationship, you’ll find that lack of trust growing and overflowing into other areas of your marriage. Is there a risk to combining accounts? Absolutely. Intimacy comes from the ways we are willing to take risks with our spouse.
2. It makes life simpler.
Households receive bills. Who should pay the bill? If a household shares all the accounts, then the answer is simple – the household account pays for all the household expenses. However, if you don’t share your finances, then every purchase will bring up the question again – who should pay for this? Why? Why not? That deep level of constant inquisitiveness would introduce a lot of undue work and stress to a household. This also opens the door for bitterness as one person in the marriage might feel like they’re paying for more than their fair share.
3. It honors the valuable contribution of each spouse.
My wife is a stay at home mother, teacher, chef, and activity coordinator – a proficient domestic engineer who doesn’t get paid for her work. I believe it would be disrespectful to my wife to expect that somehow she’d be obligated to a smaller part of the household resources because she does not work outside the home. In fact, if she was forced to buy ‘her own things’ with ‘her own money’, that would create a wedge in our home because she’d feel the need to go out and find work for pay. Again, that would be adding unnecessary pressure and stress. Some contributions to the household are financial, but all provide a valuable contribution to the home. By combining finances and adopting an attitude of what’s mine is yours, the household needs take precedence over individual needs.
4. Joint goals and movement in the same direction is encouraged.
In marriage it should be the goal of both partners to always move in the same direction. Amazingly, many of our life goals are tied to our finances. If your goals are moving you in different directions, eventually your lives will start moving in different directions and separate accounts will help fund your differences. However, when you combine resources, if one spouse wants to move forward, the other must be on board.
5. In the unfortunate case of death, finances are simplified.
A few months ago, I was talking with a widow who is trying to straighten out her financial house after the sudden death of her husband. Some accounts and financial transactions did not list her name. and she’s finding it difficult to wade through all the technicalities while she should be grieving. If their finances were combined, she’d have less work trying to manage all the various accounts.
Are there ever reasons to keep finances separate?
While joint financial management is best, sometimes there are cases where it is better to keep separate accounts. There may be a situation where a person has previously violated financial trust. As a result, you might agree on a set time frame where the responsible spouse is the sole person in control of the funds. This is reasonable as long as there is a clear understanding that the ultimate goal is to build trust in order to join accounts once again.
If a particular issue is so intense, creating separate accounts (formally or informally) may be the wisest course of action. I know of a couple who faced a lot of disagreements about how they should be using their giving money. Ultimately, they decided to split the amount they agreed so each could be in control of where half of that money goes.
Similarly, there should be areas of freedom in a budget. You or your spouse might receive funds for areas that only interest you. If you have a fund for a hobby that you’ve both agreed to, then it’s fine to have sole discretion over those funds. Again, this is only in cases where you both mutually agreed to separate some funds for your individual delegation.
Obviously, there are probably other unique situations where combining finances doesn’t make sense, but probably for 90% of couples, they will be blessed by combining finances.
Have you combined your finances? What do you think are reasons either to or not to combine finances?