As we’ve discussed previously, the Olde Method for merging finances was simple and straightforward:
The Man and Womyn shall meet when they are idiot teenagers. They shall marrie when they are both seventeen years old, after two weeks of casual dates at the soda shoppe. The couple shall thereafter commence cohabitation. The Man shall seek salaried employment, and shield the Womyn’s eyes from their mutual finances, excepting the allowance to keep herself in straight pins, and the house in mutton, and the sheepe in the oat corne, and the rye corne, and the barley. And i ‘t be true the Husband gambles her dowry hence, the Wyfe might not but wend to Reno and return to her father’s home in shame and disgrace. Oye, oye, oye, forever and ever, Amen.
Mmhmm, yep, that’s just how it went!
Because labor outside the home was classically a masculine burden (at least in the last few centuries and at least for middle- to upper-class folks), salaries and investments were largely the purview of men. Women, conversely, were usually tasked with domestic labor and household budgets.
The history of gendered expectations around money is long and bonkers. It was only in the 1960s that women gained the legal right to open a savings account of their own. Until the mid-1970s, banks refused to issue lines of credit to women without their husbands’ permission—and not at all to unmarried women. This is a great example of a situation where the patriarchy makes life unpleasant for all genders of people: women are treated like idiot children, men are treated like the long-suffering babysitters of their life partners. And it was all within living memory for our parents! Jeeeeezuz.
Point being, it hasn’t been a long time at all since couples were legally forced to merge most aspects of their individual finances. (We also invented gay marriage since then. You’re welcome.)
That means that couples today are almost certainly managing their finances radically differently than their parents and grandparents. We have a very shallow bench of examples to pull from! And we’ve made up individualized systems as we go, aided by technology.
Here are the successful ways I’ve seen couples divide, partition, and share their finances.Read More