One of the hardest things for me to adjust to in marriage has been the merging of the money. When we got married, Robert had already had several “real” jobs and could support himself successfully. He knew how to balance a budget and how to save and spend well. On the other hand, I had no idea what I was doing. I was still relying pretty heavily on my mom for financial support and wasn’t sure about the idea of living completely on my own. I had a job in retail, which I didn’t feel was good enough or adult enough. I felt like I was going to move straight from dependence on my mom to dependence on my husband. And in all honesty, that is what really happened.
When we first got married, we kept our bank accounts separate. My husband had recently started his own business, and the excuse was that if anything happened early on to the business, my credit and my name would be unharmed by a loss. I would take my paycheck and pay some bills and keep every single penny of what was left for whatever selfish purchases I wanted to make. He would pay the rent through his account, and we wouldn’t talk about it much unless I ran out of money and couldn’t pay my portion. This method gave me very little accountability. I have very weak willpower when it comes to spending money, and I can easily blow through all my extra money on tiny things that add up way too quickly. I found myself hiding a lot of my purchases, afraid that he would be disappointed in where my money went every month. I know I could have been honest with him and he would have forgiven me, but my own shame kept me from sharing with him. I wanted so badly every month to be able to control myself in the makeup section at Target and say that I had leftover money, but I just never did. I couldn’t do it, and keeping our money separate enabled me to continue that way for a while.
Eventually we did combine accounts, and it was such a good idea. It certainly didn’t make everything easier for me right away. I still struggled with buying things I really didn’t need and hiding my purchases from Rob. We combined our bank accounts while we were in the middle of a program called Financial Peace University, taught by Dave Ramsey. If you haven’t heard of or taken part in this program, I highly recommend it! The lessons he teaches are so simple yet so powerful, and it truly changed the way we see money and budgeting and finances in general. We started using the money envelop system, and it completely changed the way we spend money every month. I’m not intending to be an ad for Dave Ramsey, and if you’ve found another way or program of handling money, excellent! I commend you for seeking out better ways to get a grip on your finances.
Part of the lesson in spending money was very personal for me. It was a matter of my idols and what I held as the most important thing in my life. I wanted more stuff, even when I didn’t need any. I wanted more makeup just because it was pretty and made me feel good. I wanted new, nice things. I wanted all these more than I wanted to honor my husband and his hard work. I wanted all these more than I wanted to honor God. It’s still a daily struggle for me, and I probably should never be allowed to walk around Target by myself.
The biggest lesson for me in all this was in honesty. Being dishonest with my husband in any area of our life does not facilitate life and growth, it only invites negativity and distrust. The feeling of anxiety in my stomach is not worth it, and even if it seems like such a small thing, any amount of dishonesty between a husband and wife can be fatal in the end. Money is such a touchy thing and can have such a huge impact on people. I’ve heard plenty of times that money is one of the top reasons couples fight, and I’ve seen it cause huge rifts in between couples. In the end, it’s just not worth it. Whether you share a bank account or keep everything separate, honesty in finances (and in everything, honestly) is the way to go. Even if you’re still struggling to figure out which way is best for you, I really want to encourage you to come clean with your husband about struggles you may be having financially. I struggle to resist buying the small things, such as cute little items in the checkout line. Rob struggles with bigger things; he’ll wait for months and then out of the blue, he’ll buy a new, expensive xbox game. Everyone has their own struggle with money, but I truly believe they’ll be resolved ten times faster if we are honest with each other about it.