When I heard this story, two words screamed out at me, Financial infidelity! Now you know that there are so many types of infidelity in a marriage than adultery, right? And in an era where every marriage class ends with the admonition to be open to each other in whatever you are doing, it is a bit surprising that both partners will not know about the other’s financial state.
Juliana and her husband have been married for over two decades with children in the university but she had never, ever showed her husband her bank statement or told him how much she earned. It was just not in her dictionary, but their marriage survived and is still thriving. How did she do it?
While she might have sworn before God and their wedding guests to share her worldly goods with her husband and vice versa, she was not willing to submit to full disclosure. It was not going to happen. She might have his surname, the same name, attached to the accounts into which she deposits her hard earned money; but it was still her money, the one she worked for and which according to her, she was free to spend as she chooses.
And if you think that would have caused lots of money rows between them, far from it. Juliana said they have never had any cause to complain about money to each other. Each person spent what they had and if there arose an emergency, they worked around it but, Juliana is not obliged to tell her husband how much she earns or has in her savings accounts. All that mattered was that the house was running at its best.
This actually seem surreal to me, I have heard many examples of marital strife caused by money rows. A wife left high and dry by her husband, who gambled everything they owned – including the roof over their heads – on an ill-advised business scheme. A new car that suddenly turned up outside the house when the wife knew the husband couldn’t afford to put petrol in their existing family car. Or even a handbag that cost an arm and a leg, that was not mentioned could bring about a major row in a home. How Juliana’s husband handles the matter intrigues me.
Well, far from being annoyed with the situation, her husband seems happy with the arrangement. He doesn’t know how much she earns, although he could probably hazard a guess. He doesn’t know the full extent of her savings or retirement funds. She operates the ‘need-to-know’ rule, and right now, her husband doesn’t need to know and in fact, he had never asked. So they are good.
And don’t think that Juliana is the only one practicing this trend; there was a recent research, which suggested that more couples are actually keeping their financials separate from each other with neither poke nosing into how much the other earns or spend and on what it was spent. They chose to be reassured that, their spouse would have their back in all circumstances, which I think is the most beautiful part. The study suggested that half of all married people interviewed didn’t know what their spouse earned. Men, it turns out, were the slightly less curious partners: only 52 per cent can cite with any degree of accuracy what their spouse’s salary was, compared with 60 per cent of women. It appears the women are the curious cats.
Now, this is where it gets interesting; while her husband does not know her accounts details, she knows most of his; the accounts and other investment plans he has. Some she is vaguely aware of, but she takes comfort in the fact that it exist, even if she doesn’t know where.
Juliana did not get that way in one day. She came from three generations of women who handled their finances by themselves because they could not trust the male folks in their lives, or were forced to handle the finances because the man of the house died in a freak accident, forcing responsibilities on the shoulders of the woman.
When Juliana’s father died unexpectedly in an accident, their Mom, tried to maintain the standard of living of the family. Luckily, even while her father was alive, her mother had started to build her own nest egg so, it wasn’t so difficult to get by after they lost her dad. Although, life is good to Juliana and her family now, she hasn’t let go of that lesson. More so, her mother reminds her of it regularly; drawing on her ears, she would say, “I hope you’re saving some money, no one knows what tomorrow will bring”
That became a lifestyle for her and flowed into her marriage. Marrying someone with the same money orientation helped a lot. Otherwise, as you can well imagine, there would have been serious issues in their marriage.
While this approach of keeping their finances separate works for them, it might not work same way for everyone. So, we all have to find what works or don’t work for our peculiar circumstances.
However, try not to sweat the small stuff though.