I was reading a blog post at Single Guy Money where he relates the story of a friend who was hiding money from her husband. This woman apparently has a secret checking account where she keeps money that her husband doesn’t know about. My jaw about hit the floor when I read that. Do people really do this?
I know they must, because you hear about it every day. Oprah and Dr. Phil produce popular television shows by featuring wives or husbands who are keeping financial secrets from their spouses.
Still, I can’t imagine keeping that kind of secret from my husband. It goes against everything I believe about marriage. We are a partnership. A team. When we don’t agree on finances, we talk it out until we can come to an agreement. If we’re not agreeing on the budget, then something is unbalanced. We make compromises until the budget is acceptable.
One of those compromises came yesterday. We’ve been in a really tight financial situation since my husband lost his job last May. He’s working again, but the money isn’t as good. Our newspaper subscription recently came up for renewal, and we talked about canceling the subscription. My husband left for work before we had come to a conclusion on the subject.
Later in the day he called me. He let me know he had bought a NASCAR magazine, and then he told me he was having second thoughts about canceling the newspaper. I gave him our budget numbers, and we decided that we do need to cancel the newspaper, but we can probably pick up a copy of the Sunday paper at the store every once in a while.
Since we’re on a tight budget, I could have gotten irritated with his purchase of the magazine, but I realize that everyone needs to make a frivolous purchase every once in a while. My husband is pretty reasonable in this regard. He doesn’t buy magazines and coffees every day, so I don’t give him a hard time when he splurges. He gives me the same courtesy.
We also took a look at the numbers together and agreed something needed to go. The most logical thing for us to drop right now is our newspaper subscription. Numbers don’t lie. Both spouses need to be willing to accept their income for what it is, and then make the adjustments to live within that income. When my husband saw the numbers, he knew that giving up the paper was the right thing to do. It’s not worth arguing about if there’s no other solution.
Finally, honesty is important in a marriage. In the case of Single Guy’s friend, how is the husband going to feel when he finds out about his wife’s secret account? And it will happen. It always does. How is he ever going to trust her with money again? As uncomfortable as it is, it’s better to argue about the finances until you can come to a reasonable compromise than it is to resort to lying to your spouse.
It’s all about having respect for your spouse’s desires and being willing to work within the framework of your financial situation. If a couple can’t do that, it’s an indicator that there is something more wrong than just their finances.