Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bit and Bridle in the Bridal Party

Dear Eve,

I need help settling an argument between my fiancĂ© and myself.  I think that we should combine our finances into one account and share it.  She wants us to keep separate accounts and split the bills 50/50.

Who is right?

Dear Fair and Square,

You're right, of course!  Combining your accounts is a gesture of commitment.  It's a way to say, "What belongs to me, belongs to you.  We have the same goals and values and trust each other implicitly."  You are showing each other that you are so confident in the forever-ness of your union that you're willing to give up any last vestiges of material autonomy that you've held onto.  Sounds pretty fucking awesome to me and is a wonderful way to start a fantastic life together.

A joint account, also, if you're doing it right, erases the crazy notion that one of you has more right to your funds than the other.  Sometimes it's reasoned that the person who makes the most money has more say in how the money is used and more right to use it for just themselves.  Or it will be decided that if one's not contributing money into the household, for whatever reason, access to the family money should be minimal.  And if you're in a really shitty relationship, the non-earner has to ask/beg for money when it's needed. This makes me furious. You can't have a relationship of equals when one person feels entitled to more while also feeling emboldened to treat the other like a child.  A relationship of equals is the only kind worth working for; if you're not ready for a authentic connection with your partner and the sacrifices that are a part of that, do everyone a favor and save your I-Do's for someone less permanent like your favorite bartender. "Do you want want that scotch neat?"and you, answering with tears in your eyes, say "I do. Until the end of forever! I do!"  You do, indeed.  That's a commitment I feel confident that you can honor.

The bill splitting is another thing all together.  You might think, "Okay.  We're each using half of everything, what's the big deal to split our expenses down the middle?  It's logical."  It may be logical, but logic never kept anyone married. Someone always makes less, so paying their "fair share" will be more of a burden.  You better believe that resentment will creep in if one person has access to play money each month and the other doesn't have the same financial leeway. Nothing says romance like having to borrow money from your spouse to go on vacation.  I've seen it happen and the money wasn't collected until the divorce settlement.  Yay for splitting bills!

For the record, I am not unreasonable.  I see nothing wrong with each spouse having their own private bank account if there is a surplus after all monetary commitments have been made to the joint account, including a savings fund.  Allow yourselves an equal amount of money per month with which to do what you will.  One of you might be a saver, the other might spend it all every month.  It's no one's business what you do.  You can have your own funds; just do it within a jointly determined budget.

In the end, if you can't give up control over the money you bring into the relationship, consider that you're not prepared to be committed to the idea of marriage itself, which is half of the equation of a successful, long marriage.  There is no "Let's prepare for the worst and keep things separate" if you're ever going to really give your marriage a chance.  When you give yourself an out, there's a pretty good chance you're going to take it.

Oh-one caveat:  If either person in the marriage is lazy, self-centered, has no aspirations, and is a nagging little despot that expects the world to serve them, they don't get half of shit.  You don't marry them, either, unless you have serious co-dependency issues.  Marry someone that is you equal in every way.  It will be your own damn fault if you choose not to.  I'll HAHAHA at you from afar (or in your ear if I'm in a bad mood) because you will have chosen this person knowing full well that they are worthless.  When you show up to the wedding with your bridle already on, no one will feel sorry for you when you get the crop, spurs and then are rode hard and put up wet.  ::neigh!:: ::air paw::  ::snort, snort::  Man, I don't like horses.

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