I always find it fascinating how different couples manage their finances, particularly those who are married. Money can be a very taboo subject and most people in the UK do not discuss their personal financial habits openly, or even share their salary. In this blog post I’m going to look at how money impacts relationships and take a look at how money affects my own marriage.
Since becoming man and wife, my husband Ben and I have shared a bank account and we share all our money equally. Ben earns more than me, but he had the opportunity to continue with his job after we had children, whereas things seemed different for me. Going back to work full time after having two children would have been impossible due to childcare costs being more than my wage, so it made more sense for me to do the bulk of the childcare and find part time jobs around Ben’s hours. I’ve since managed to build up a full time career working for myself at home, but it’s not yet equal to Ben’s wage. I still feel we are equal with regards to money as Ben may earn more, but he can only do so with me doing all the school runs and being there looking after the children for three and a half extra hours than him each day whilst he’s at work.
Though we have a joint account, I do all the sums each month. I try to share this role with Ben or at least tell him what’s going on, but I’m sure it goes in one ear and out the other. I think he prefers I just deal with it all and he doesn’t have to! We are very open and honest about money, but I suppose we have to be to share an account. Not sharing just didn’t work for us as we were constantly moving money between our different accounts and pretty much sharing anyway, so it was the logical step. I find it fascinating that some married couples don’t even know how much their partner earns, they keep their wages to themselves or they never discuss finances.
Money was never a deciding factor when we got together. I have never dated someone because of their earning potential and it really isn’t something that impresses me. Saying that, I do need to be with someone who has some get up and go and wants to make a living for themselves. I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t want to work and had no drive! But I’d never date someone just because they had a lot of money.
Shepherds Friendly recently conducted a survey to see how money influences our relationships. In this blog article I am going to look at 5 of the most surprising ways money influences our relationships from their findings. From dating through to serious relationships, here are the surprising results:
Money plays a part in how attractive you find a partner
22% of men and 31% of women agreed with this statement. That’s very high! I’d like to think I date someone because I find them attractive, not their pay packet! If a man earned less than me it wouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was unemployed through choice, so I guess they’d have to have some sort of wage or at least be looking for employment, but it’s the person I’d be dating, not their salary. I certainly wouldn’t find someone more attractive just because they earned more.
Men should pay on a date night
Over 68% of men think they should pay on a date night. I find this very high and I’d never expect a man to pay for me on a date night. I’d rather pay for myself, or if I knew there will be further dates then I’d be happy to take it in turns. If they really want to pay then that’s fine, but I wouldn’t expect or assume it.
Salaries are personal information and not to be shared with each other
I am pleased to see the stats for this statement are low, only 9.1% of men and 13.3% of women agreed with this. I think we should all be open and honest about money, especially when in a committed relationship. If I earned more than my husband it would still be our money and we would share it equally whilst we are in a committed relationship to each other. I work hard not only for myself, but for my husband and children too so we can all reap the benefits. I’d find it worrying if my partner didn’t want to be open about their earnings and I’d probably assume they think I want to steal it, or else why wouldn’t they feel able to share it with me?! If it’s the other way around and they earn a low wage and are possibly in debt, then this also needs to be shared so the partner can support and live within their means.
Bankruptcy equates to the end of a relationship
Only around 10% of women and men think bankruptcy means a relationship will end. Obviously it depends on the circumstances involved, but I would not end my relationship with my husband if he became bankrupt and I hope he would not with me either. That would not be a reason to break up so long as we were honest with each other about our finances up to this point and tried our best to prevent it. If the relationship was full of lies about finance and secret debt, however, then I can see how this could result in the breakdown of a relationship. It’s best to be open and honest about finances and to live within your means.
It’s important to save for your future
Around 90% of men and women agree with this and I do too. It’s so important to put some money to one side, both as an emergency fund and also for a pension. Being in agreement with your other half about this certainly helps. It can cause friction if one wants to blow every penny and live like there’s no tomorrow and the other one wants to save as much as possible for a better future. Finances need to be discussed openly for this very reason and an agreement reached.
Money can certainly be a taboo topic, but in an open and honest relationship full of trust and understanding, it really doesn’t have to be. In the beginnings of a relationship it may be hush-hush, but for a relationship to last I think conversations about money are natural and needed.
What to read next
Why I do what I do: my plans for the future.
How to raise the cash for an unexpected bill and my own debt story
What to do when you have debt you cannot pay
What to do if you’re struggling to manage your finances
4 Rules for Preventing Future Debt and Mastering Your Finances