His, mine, or ours? Why I struggle with sharing money.

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Disclaimer: The views in this post are mine alone and based on my personal, very subjective experience. This is not to criticize the experience of my childhood or members of my biological family. 

I have been married for 5 years. We have two children between us and one from my husband’s first marriage. Deciding it was time to buy a home of our own, we finally started to put our money together rather than function as 2 independent earners with separate bank accounts and divided responsibilities for spending (or saving) our money. (You can read more about our journey here)

But honestly, I don’t really know how to do that. I feel in my heart that at this point in the game, if we team up and work together, we can conquer our remaining debts and plan better for our life together with our girls. You may be thinking, “how does this woman not know how to share money with her husband?”. I know, I sounds kind of silly.

To make a long story short, the reason is fear and lack of knowledge.

Lets start with lack of knowedge. No one taught me about money. Sure, my depression era father (born into the Great Depression in 1938) always told me to save, save, save my money. And for the most part, I am a saver at heart. He would give us $5 to spend in KB Toys and I would leave with my toy and $2 dollars still in my pocket. Meanwhile, my older brother would beg my dad for ‘tax money’ because the toy he wanted was $4.99 and he only had $5. Even siblings raised in the same family can have very different relationships with money.

Beyond the $5 limit at KB Toys and the message to save my money, there was no further instruction. Over my lifetime, I have been able to save large sums of money but with no ‘plan’, I ended up squandering it away. It’s painful to think about. This at least explains my lack of knowledge. It’s been up to me to figure out money and how to make it work for me with the examples I had and with the powerful consumer culture pushing against us all the time.

Fear. Fear is a different reason and one that is the hardest for me to shake off because its visceral. My mother has been married 5 times (engaged 7). Her marriage to my father (at age 21) was actually her second marriage. They made it 10 years. I was born a few months before my mother turned 30 and their divorce soon followed. My mother would move on to 2 more marriages followed by divorce, one almost marriage, completed by her current and last marriage (in 1996). Between 1978-1996, my mother would experience 3 divorces, a major break-up, and 3 marriages. By default, by the time I was 18 and completed my first year of college, I too would experience my mother’s 3 divorces, major break-up, and 3 marriages. I was in her wedding party this last time.

That’s a lot of dissolution, chaos, and financial uncertainty, not only for a parent, but for children to endure. Essentially it’s trauma. It also embeded certain messages about partnership, marriage, family, and money. I learned self-reliance very early. I was able to feed myself (find food in the refrigerator and cupboard for breakfast) by the age of 4. My brother was cooking eggs and toast by 6 years old.

I also learned that you can’t trust or depend on others, they will fail you. I learned to always have a safety net, a way out of any situation. I learned that women should have their own money, independent from her spouse. Going through therapy as an adult, as well as getting married has made me face these assumptions and reconsider my beliefs.

I am afraid to pool my money with my spouse. It means I have to trust him, fully. It means I have to exchange my control for cooperation and when you grow up with trauma and access to money means survival, its not an easy shift.

Do you have any fears about sharing money with your significant other? How do you deal with it?

 

 

8 thoughts on “His, mine, or ours? Why I struggle with sharing money.

  1. lovethewiggins says:

    Pretty interesting blog however, I think it’s great that you recognize the root problem because now you can communicate that with you husband. I think for a lot of us women who have been independent for so long and who came from broken homes have the same problems. We fear because we think about the what if’s, also it leads to fully trusting your husband that he will be who God says he is for you and your kids. There’s just so much more but this is how I feel. When I start fealing fearful of something I really just bring it to my husbands attention so we can fix it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • mrsmotherdirt says:

        Thank you the thoughtful comment. You bring up a good point – I need to share my feelings with my partner. Years ago I struggled with expressing my needs/feelings and I would become almost passive/aggressive rather than just get to the point. Lucky for me (and after years of practice), I do talk with my husband about this fear I have and he is always understanding and on board to join/share our resources. Once I verbally express my fear, most of it dissipates; the power of the fear is gone…mostly 🙂

        Like

  2. lifetastesbetteronabudget says:

    This was so beautifully and courageously honest. I applaud you. I think I take it for granted that my husband was so easy to work with when we decided to take control of our finances. There was trust that I would handle things well while he was deployed, but he so could have easily been the guy that bucked back and said “no I want to spend this extra money on some hot car when I get home.” So many in the military do.

    There is a real struggle though for married couples to do as you say, with or without the trauma you describe, particularly for women I think. Nowadays there is a pressure to have your independence and to leave men, even your husband, out of it. And there are also so many messages being thrown towards men of “we don’t need you anymore.” Keeping your finances separate says that to our husbands, that we don’t need them and that we are ready to run in the opposite direction at a moments notice.

    It isn’t a criticism. I struggled early in my marriage to spend what felt like “my husband’s money” as well. Stay strong and keep working at it with him. I know you got DR’s book and are working on reading it, but if I could be so bold, you might consider getting into Financial Peace University with your hubby too. I know you’ve been married for 5 years but FPU is recommended by some pastors as a great marriage prep class (or “marriage refocus” for those of us already married). Even if you are not a Christian (I don’t know if you are), the classes are fairly secular.

    Our finances permeate everything in our marriage. Coming together on them is how we can agree on our hopes, our dreams and our future TOGETHER. It strips some of the fears away. There is a marvelous power to that 🙂 And I have rambled all over your website once again, sorry! I’m a talker on and off the internet lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mrsmotherdirt says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a thoughtful, sincere comment. My husband is generous and very willing. I think both of us being ‘willing’ to talk about money and other issues and do it different than our parents, has served us well. It’s the only way we are still together. I have to admit, half of the battle of changing my beliefs has been enduring rejection from my family for making more “traditional” decisions as a female. I have received negative messages for seeing through relationship problems, sharing one car, getting married, etc.

    I have also been watching DR you tube videos and I LOVE when he talks about marriage and relationships. He puts biblical values and teachings into the context of LIFE, which I am able to grasp and understand. I will check out FPU. Thank you for being so bold to suggest it. 😉
    I wasn’t exactly handed a blueprint (or great example) of what marriage is, should be, or what it CAN be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Waking Me says:

    I agree with you completely. Women should not be dependent on their spouse or anyone else. Women must have career goals, they must have a retirement account, a savings account for emergencies, and continuously set financial goals.

    I am a woman with three children and on my third marriage. During my first marriage, I depended on my husband. I learned afterwards that I needed to depend on myself and create my own happiness. It was at this time, I went back to college and began my now successful career.

    During my second marriage, my husband depended on me and took advantage of what I could provide without any offer to help in addition to not showing me any appreciation.

    Now on my third marriage, I found a happy medium. We contribute to finances equally or close to (I bring in more money). It took me three tries to get it right. My husband and I have separate checking and savings accounts. We have one joint account where bills are paid for. He is not selfish and would hand over his paycheck if I asked for it. He has never asked me for a dime.

    Here are the key ingredients that I have learned in order to have a happy, financially stable marriage: 1) Each spouse should be financially independent 2) Each spouse must be willing to compromise 3) Each spouse must accept that there will be times when one or the other will have to give more money than the other 4) Establish financial goals together…….and last but not least 5) Find a husband who cherishes you more than money or material things and who would gladly give up his paycheck to you if you asked for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrsmotherdirt says:

      I identify very deeply with your comment. I have been taken advantage of in relationships as well. Thankfully, I ended up married to my husband because he has never asked me for money, to help lift him up, or any other nonsense. I have to say though, there is something in the strength of marriages where the couple can unite, work though the finances, and be as one. This plan/path is not for every couple, which is why there are so many different ways couples manage their money. Currently, we are working toward a shared pile. Thank you for taking the time to comment and read my post. I have a lot to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. NorCal Zen says:

    Very interesting article. I can relate to a lot of what you say. I’m divorced. I don’t like taking risks with money, or being in debt. I’m all on for investing money, but never more than I can afford to loose. That was an issue when I had a shared economy with my ex husband. I’m a hard worker, but prefer to work less hours on a regular job, and spend more time with my daughter, than money on stuff. My wish to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, rather than working full time, have been an issue when dating some guys.

    Liked by 1 person

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