Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Trusting the Fiancé with the Finances
I’ve been engaged for about six months. Things are going OK – plans are being made for the wedding, excitement’s starting to build. But I’m also concerned. My fiancé wants us to merge our finances into one bank account (as of now we’ve got separate accounts at different banks). I’m not too keen on the idea. I think he’s very irresponsible when it comes to money and I worry about him having access to mine. Not that I think he’d steal it or anything, but he’s a pretty reckless spender and I’d hate for him to go on one of his binges and spend our rent and utilities money in the process. He says if we’re being married it means sharing our lives, and that includes finances. I don’t agree. What do you think?
The situation may not be as cut-and-dry as you perceive it to be. In fact, I can assure you that from where I’m sitting it seems anything but. I think you do voice some valid concerns and they certainly should be addressed, but at the same time your fiancé may also have some worthwhile points to consider. What I think is of equal, if not greater importance than resolving the apparent (and really superficial) issue here is that you two are able to work together to find that resolution. In many ways, you could consider this a practice run for how you both need to learn to work together in order to resolve differences (Unless you just want to shout at each other a lot, but I don’t recommend that. You’ll be miserable. And hoarse).
Regarding the immediate matter of the bank accounts, I of course understand your concern, and by no means should you put yourself in a position which could result in not being able to pay the bills or make rent. However, I hope you realize that it is far from an ideal situation in a marriage not to be able to trust each other, be it over finances or anything else. This feeling of mistrust could spread to infect other areas of your relationship, and I’m sure that’s something neither of you want. My hope is that you’ll be able to make gradual steps towards each other and meet in the middle.
“OK Dr V, that sounds fine. How about some concrete suggestions for things we can do?” I was just getting to that. For you, of course I would recommend having a few conversations with your fiancé about your feelings regarding his reckless spending. The difference between this and the other times you’ve talked about it hopefully being that you can approach the matter from a cool, neutral emotional zone, rather than a reactive one (which is what I assume has been going on between you guys, if this was enough of an issue for you to write in to me). While you can’t force a change in your fiancé’s spending habits, perhaps letting him know how upsetting his carelessness is to you could motivate him to try and make the necessary changes on his own.
I think this process could be helped along if you in turn were able to make a show of good faith and open the shared bank account. However, perhaps as an insurance policy of sorts, you could establish individual accounts linked to the main account for each of you, respectively. This way the core funds needed to get through the months (rent, bills, groceries, etc.) could be secure while you would each have your own separate “slush funds” to spend as you like.
Does that seem a bit like micromanaging, perhaps even a bit (gag), parental? (“Here’s your allowance, sweetie!”) Maybe. But this does not mean things will always be this way. A compromise such as this would allow you to have the shared account, give you the peace of mind that what’s needed would be there and, hopefully, give your fiancé a better idea of how much cash he’s blowing on ephemera every month when he sees how quickly the money dissipates.
Of course, the money and the accounts are just the surface issues. I think what’s really in play here are emotions related to trust and responsibility. For you, it’s a matter of learning to trust your fiancé to behave responsibly with money (provided he makes the effort to learn how to do that). And for your fiancé, I think he may need to expand and deepen his understanding of what his responsibilities to your shared home are. Meaning that, as you two now share the burden of the cost of living, it’s his responsibility as your husband and partner not to squander that which you need to sustain your home.
To boil it down to a succinct statement, you two have to learn how to be married to each other. Which makes sense, as it’s not something either of you have done yet (at least with each other…I’m assuming this is a maiden voyage into unknown territory for you both). That being said, go easy on yourselves and each other. Remember that neither of you are mind readers or perfect. Mistakes will be made, things won’t always go as planned. However, if you can maintain an open, empathetic and loving atmosphere in your relationship where everyone is respected and nobody is ever cast as victim or villain, you will very likely find that resolutions not just to this, but whatever other conflicts and challenges await on your shared path, are not as elusive or impossible to achieve as they might have first appeared.
With Love and Light,
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