What's Your Excuse? Break Down Your Money Barriers
Why You Feel That Way
There are two big reasons (and a host of little ones) why you let your husband or partner take control of your financial life. Either he wants control or you want him to have it. It makes you feel taken care of, coddled, indulged. It makes you feel loved and brings out your inner princess. The trouble is, indulging your inner princess—allowing her to sit primly on her throne and have all the "icky" stuff taken care of for her—is a dangerous thing to do. You will in all likelihood be forced to handle your own money at some point in your life. You want to know how to do that before some event—some life emergency—puts you in a position where you don't have any choice.
The interesting thing is, you may have run your own finances quite successfully before you got married or settled into a permanent relationship. You may even have found that you have a knack for managing money. Yet after a walk down the aisle, the urge is to get those money management jobs off your plate, to give them up.
How to Get Over It
Once you get past the emotional barriers that are causing you to give up control of your money, you have to understand the tactical advantage of keeping at least partial control. Money is boring and uninteresting unless you have a personal stake in the game. If you give up control of your paycheck or control of the household accounts—even to a spouse—you lose that personal interest.
Over the years, I have come to believe that everyone needs some financial autonomy, some independence. The best way to go in any relationship is a combination of joint and separate accounts. One for you, one for your partner and a household account for both of you—in other words: yours, mine and ours accounts. You can either have your paychecks direct deposited into separate checking accounts, then have a preset percentage of your income funneled into joint checking, or you can do it the other way around.
What else can you do quickly, cheaply and easily?
- Talk—and listen—to each other. Paychecks and housework aside, the factor that most contributes to whether you are happy in your marriage is whether your partner is engaged emotionally.
- Date. You may have to get each other out of the house, out of the busyness of everyday life, in order to pay attention to each other's needs. Once a week is a must. Twice a week is a plus.
- Focus on the endgame. Discuss your paychecks—both of them. But try to do so in the context of getting somewhere as a family. What are your shared goals?