I want to marry him — but can’t we keep our money sep­a­rate?


Q: Do you think cou­ples need to com­bine money to have a healthy mar­riage?

I’m get­ting mar­ried in two months and we are con­sid­er­ing keep­ing ev­ery­thing to­tally sep­a­rate. He makes a lot more than me and spends a lot more than me, and I just feel more com­fort­able not get­ting an­noyed by his spend­ing. Also, he has stu­dent loans and I do not.

A: There are no “shoulds” here, and even if there were, my guess is you’d want fi­nan­cial ad­vice from some­one who doesn’t rou­tinely find for­got­ten cash in her coat pocket.

But here’s the deal from a psy­cho­log­i­cal stand­point: a sat­is­fy­ing mar­riage means that you share your lives, your dreams, your plans and your set­backs. Many of th­ese, like it or not, in­volve money.

So, while the ins and outs of who has what ac­count num­ber may vary (and in­deed, some cou­ples find relief in hav­ing cer­tain money in in­di­vid­ual ac­counts), it’s nonethe­less go­ing to be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to take the stand that ev­ery­thing is sep­a­rate.

This isn’t just be­cause of day-to­day te­dious­ness, though that’s sig­nif­i­cant (do you go half­sies on orange juice? The un­ex­pected new roof?). Rather, it’s be­cause of the men­tal­ity of mar­riage. In­di­vid­ual debt and un­wise spend­ing hold both of you back, and in­di­vid­ual tri­umphs are some­thing for a cou­ple to cel­e­brate, to­gether.

Why cut each other off from the joint experience?

Bonior, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, writes a weekly re­la­tion­ships ad­vice column in The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Ex­press daily tabloid and is au­thor of “The Friend­ship Fix.”


A sat­is­fy­ing mar­riage means that you share your lives.

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