The 1 Piece Of Marriage Advice I'm Happy I Ignored

Fifty years ago, I'm guessing my mom would have sat me down the night before my wedding to give me the old birds and the bees talk. But since I waited until my late twenties to tie the knot, she probably sensed that ship had already sailed. In place of a sex chat, she made sure to provide advice on something I believe she places an even greater importance on in marriage: money. Now, my mom and dad separated for a good 10 years before reuniting, but never divorced, and this is important to note because, unlike some women who find themselves trapped because of financial dependence on a spouse, this wasn't her experience. I listened carefully to her advice. And then I chose to completely ignore it when I got married -- a decision I don't regret for a second. 

My mom asked if I was planning on sharing a bank account with my husband. Of course, I said, and didn't bother to add that we had opened a joint checking account when we moved in together three years prior to our wedding. She advised me to pay our monthly bills from the same checking account -- but to keep a savings account totally separate from my husband, even if it meant not telling him about it. If, God forbid, something should happen within our marriage one day, she told me, you never want to be left without a lifeline. 

As part of the Baby Boom generation, my mom had heard plenty of stories from close friends who went through bitter, nasty divorces. Many of these women had stopped working to raise their children and found themselves completely reliant on their husbands to help them after their divorce. And, in her defense, even modern working women who are in very happy and stable marriages argue in favor of keeping a little of their own money on the side in order to prevent arguments about who spends how much over what. 

I didn't feel like this would work in my own marriage. I trust my husband with my life, and I believe he feels the same way about me. I couldn't imagine breaking that trust by storing a nest of money on the side just in case. Even if he never found out about it, I would know. I also felt like I would be starting my marriage with the end already in mind.

I believe in being logical about most things, and I certainly don't think I'm immune to divorce. But I would be utterly hurt if I knew my husband had a source of income stashed some place while I was putting all of my money -- minus any spending money we allot ourselves monthly -- toward paying the mortgage, food bills, childcare expenses, etc. We're in this thing together, and learning how to co-manage money is a crucial part of learning how to grow together and become a stronger couple. 

Do you or would you ever keep a separate savings account from your husband?


Image via Tax Credits/Flickr 

divorce, lying, marriage


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Freela Freela

We do have a joint account, but we also have separate accounts.  We aren't 'hiding' them, they are just not shared accounts.  We divide bills in a way that works for us and pay out of our own accounts.  We've been married 16 years and don't fight about money, so it's a good thing for us.  I don't think it would work for everyone, you need a certain level of trust that your partner is financially responsible and honest because there isn't the same level of transparency as one shared account, but it has worked for us.  I think any arrangement can work fine provided partners are honest about it with each other.  When people have 'secret' accounts that one spouse doesn't know about, that's where I think it becomes problematic.


my mother told me the same thing, that i have to have my own savings just in case things didn't work out, i would have something to fall back on. i believe she's right.

prplecat prplecat

There's another good reason to have something in an account of your own.  No matter how carefully you plan, the unexpected can always happen.  A friend of mine lost her DH after a long illness.  She thought that everything would go smoothly, but there was some sort of glitch with their bank account.  She was without access for TWO MONTHS.  Had she started a separate account, she would have had peace of mind at a difficult time.

Rando... Randomlady

My grandmother gave me the same piece of advice and it's made me very careful financially. I don't trust sharing my bank accounts with anyone, and I'm not so sure I ever will. For me it has always worked out better with us having our own expenses to take care of.

Caroline Griffith

My grandparents (and my aunt) gave me this same advice--and we no longer accept advice from them because of that. We absolutely do not plan our marriage by anticipating how to "win" if it were to end. Doing this is as bad as asking for a pre-nup: if you are expecting the marriage to end, you shouldn't be getting married in the first place.

No way on earth would I ever recommend someone keep a "secret" stash of money from their spouse. If they do, and their marriage ends, their distrust and untrustworthy-ness with money will be part of the problem.

Our money is OUR money and, while we do keep separate bank accounts for our personal spending, we both have access to every account.

Traci... Traci_Momof2

DH and I have always had one shared checking account and one shared savings account.  We both put money in and we both spend money out.  Every bit of income is our income and every expense is our expense.  That's what works best for us.  Doesn't mean that works best for everyone.  Each couple has to discuss and decide but I agree that openness and honesty are the best policy.  Secrets are fatal.

DH and I also went into our marriage saying that divorce is not an option.  Meaning: if you think you're going to want out some day, decide before we walk down that aisle.  So a separate account just in case sort of flies in the face of that logic.

For what it's worth, DH and I have been married 14 years and have never even thought about divorce.  Sure there have been rough patches, but we work through them.

nonmember avatar Michelle

Hahaha reading this helped me make a decision... While I applaud you ladies for your confidence in your relationships, I've found that leaving things to chance is a cruel mistress. I'm going to the bank, I have an account to open.

Manth Manth

My husband and I have separate accounts that the other doesn't have access to and we're fine with it.  In fact, since I'm not working-for-a-salary these days, having taken the time to raise our kids, he GIVES me money to go into my separate account, just to have my own money that I don't have to justify to anyone else.  That's where I save money from housekeeping to use for gifts-from-me for him and our girls, for the on-line course I'[ve just started taking to update my skills and to just buy myself a magazine or a cup of tea when I'm out and feel like treating myself.  We've been married for 21 years, most of it happily, so I don't see that having a separate bank account has been a bad thing in our marriage.

nonmember avatar Mindie

Nope this will never happen in my marriage. We share everything and I don't need a "fall back plan" because I chose to go into my marriage not looking for a way out just in case.

I have noticed though with those I know who do have this arrangement it's usually the wife and those same women say they would be angry if their husband had a different account. Double standard much?

nonmember avatar Mary

Have your own savings account, not secret and call it wife money. And maybe eventually mom money. Use it to take darling husband on a great anniversary trip in a decade, maybe you'll have kids that end up in an expensive sport, or even helping your community after a disaster. Saving your money is an awesome safety already planning your divorce is RUDE.

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