Possibly the most controversial wedding vow (after obey, which surely no bride says any longer) is the bit where you promise to stick together ‘for richer or poorer’. There’s little more likely to widen the faults in a marriage than flaky finance, after all.
Being married, or being in a committed relationship, is all about sharing. But to be frank, you can share too much. Separate bathrooms – and a spare bedroom to decamp to when the other one is snoring – are good examples of how a little distance can keep your relationship healthy.
When it comes to money, then it seems many of us are keeping all our finances, good and bad, separate from each other. Research from Equifax found that 19% of Britons wouldn’t tell their partner if they had a debt problem. That’s a bit worrying – after all, aren’t you meant to share everything, good or bad, with your life partner?
And there’s more secrecy. More than a third or those married or in a civil partnership don’t have a shared bank account. While I think that it is a good idea to have one joint account for household expenses or maybe a joint savings account if you’re aiming to pay for some specific future expense – a home deposit, wedding or holiday – I am all for keeping your main bank accounts separate. If you’ve got your own bank account then your partner can’t whinge about what you spend your money on.
But, more importantly for women, it really is vital to keep your independence. I know a woman whose husband controls all her finances. Her wages are paid into a joint bank account so her husband knows about all her spending. She doesn’t have any savings in her own name. She did once squirrel away some cash but her husband found it. She’s stuck, like some Victorian wife in a melodrama. In the week that we are reminded about Girl Power with the reunion of four-fifths of the superannuated Spice Girls, it’s worth remembering that financial independence is so important for women. Yes, of course you should share with your partner. But keep a little back just for yourself.
And see our guide to savings here.