After the wedding ceremony, the reception and the honeymoon, it is time to figure out how to make this new marriage work. Over the next year, there will be a lot of trial and error as you learn to navigate married life. Problems inevitably crop up, but they don't have to damage your relationship. The key to success is to start thinking of yourself as less of an individual and more of a member of a family - your brand new family.
Learning how to manage finances is one of the first obstacles new couples need to confront. Although many people recommend keeping your accounts separate, I believe that merging your finances will benefit your marriage.
Here are some reasons why you should have a joint checking account.
It requires trust
You may have perfectly good reasons for wanting to keep your accounts separate. But it really comes down to trust. "The reality is that you don't trust each other, and you won't put the time into sharing your money. Don't settle for the compromise of spending whatever you make. Your marriage is not a business partnership, and if you weren't ready to give up control of your money, then you weren't ready to get married," says Ben Edwards from Money Smart Life.
It enhances unity
When you are married, you become not only "me" but also "we." Becoming one in marriage is a life-long pursuit. Combining your incomes and sharing accounts is symbolic of your commitment to foster unity in your marriage.
It builds communication
One of the keys to a successful marriage is good communication. Getting used to having a shared banking account requires you to talk to your spouse. Learn how to budget and plan how you will spend your money before you spend it. Consider having a monthly financial meeting to avoid disputes and surprises.
It prevents one spouse from controlling the other
When one spouse controls all the money, he also controls all the power. Your spouse is an adult and should not be given an allowance. He or she should not have to ask permission to make a purchase. Sharing your accounts shows your spouse that you recognize him or her as an equal partner in your marriage.
It makes you less selfish
Remember how hard your mom worked to teach you to share your toys? Eventually, you complied, because you knew that you would get your toy back when your friend finished playing. Sharing accounts takes this concept one step further. It requires letting go of the idea that it is "my" money and accepting that it is "ours."
It helps you recognize your spouse's intrinsic worth
One spouse will undoubtedly make more money than the other, especially if one is a stay-at-home parent. However, that does not take into account everything that each of you brings to the marriage.
After my second child, my husband and I agreed that I should stay home with our children. He became the sole breadwinner. Although I did not earn an income, I budgeted and shopped carefully to stretch our money as far as it could go. My husband recognized my efforts not only with our finances, but also with taking care of our children and home management.
Forbes estimates that if stay-at-home parents were to be compensated for their "job," they would earn a salary of $115,000. But can you put a price on unconditional love and emotional support? A good back rub when you get home from work? A listening ear? The way he makes you laugh? Sharing accounts acknowledges that each spouse brings more to the marriage than money.
It helps you reach your goals
Talking about money allows you to share your goals and dreams. Having a shared account allows you both to keep track of your progress. It makes you accountable to each other.
Because of the goals my husband and I have set, we have been able to enjoy family vacations together, save for retirement and start our own business. In the future, we would like to own a home with several acres of property and a pool. We are on track to meet those goals because of our planning and consistency.
Keeping your accounts separate may seem like the easy answer. However, you will be missing out on many benefits if you choose to do so. Take the plunge and merge your accounts. Your marriage will grow if you do.