There’s an attitude common among women these days that “his money is our money, but my money is my money.” A working wife keeps her own assets, while the husband is expected to pay all joint expenses. Of course “his money is our money” also means: I get to decide how to spend his money. This is horrible and no man should tolerate it.
Remember my rule: His Money is His Money. If a man is the sole earner in the household, then he decides how to spend the money. Typically, a stay-at-home wife will receive a monthly budget for her household expenses, decided upon by the husband. A wife can take part in the decision-making process, but in the end, the husband decides how to spend the money. Mostly, men will tend toward frugality and savings. Men are abstract thinkers. They think in terms of building assets, even if those “assets” consist of numbers in a monthly account statement. Women tend to be much more physical and tactile. They want something they can touch. A big house feels “safe” to a woman, but feels dangerous to a man. A woman “feels like” she has a lot of stuff when she has a big house, and this stuff is a buffer against risk, while a man is calculating the consequences of the annual percentage rate and insurance costs. Also, women tend to be much more aware of social standing. They want what other women have. Men don’t care as much. When they arrive at the office, everyone looks about the same, from the CEO down to the intern. “Social standing” for a man is more about his occupation and position. Women don’t care much about a man’s occupation and position, except to the extent that it results in cashflow.
Some men, even those who are sole earners, simply give their money over to their wives to spend. They have “joint bank accounts.” Never do this. Keep a separate bank account, and then, give your wife a monthly budget for her expenses. Control the money.
In this as in all things, the problem is that: Even if a woman wants control over the money, and even if she is genuinely better at handling it (it happens), she will never respect a man that allows her to do this. When a man handles the money, everyone is happy. When a woman does, problems are the inevitable result. After all, what is the point of “his money is our money, but my money is my money” anyway? Basically, it is preparation for divorce. A woman prepares for divorce because she can’t see herself staying with a man who allows her to kick him around in this fashion. It is stupid, yes. Men would not do this, to their wives or each other. But, that is what women do. They can’t help themselves.
So, we come to the situations where both husband and wife are earning money. I don’t think this is a good idea, especially when children are involved. Nevertheless, it is common. I will admit at the outset that it is a little difficult when a woman is earning a lot more than her husband — more than 50% more. Let’s set that aside for now. In all other cases, the wife should hand over her income to her husband, to control. Women are usually apoplectic about this. But, it is what many men do today, even though they shouldn’t. So, you are not asking her to do anything different than what many men do, and probably, what she is asking you to do. Then, give some of it back to her, as her monthly budget.
The Surrendered Wife (1999), by Laura Doyle, has a chapter specifically about this. It is a worthwhile book for many other reasons too. Basically, the point of the book is: women are happy when men have control, and unhappy when women have control. This is also true of finances. Indeed, I would say that if the man doesn’t control the money, then all of his other “taking the lead” actions are mostly theater.
At first, surrendering control of the finances seemed suicidal to me. I believed that if I didn’t police the money that was coming in and going out of our bank account, my husband would spend it, well, wrong. …
The unromantic mother/son dynamic (where you tell your husband how much he can spend or what he can buy) is the first thing to go when you let him manage the finances. Remember: Men are not attracted to their mothers. [She should say: women are not attracted to their sons.] …
I know that if you’re a breadwinner, the idea of turning over your entire paycheck sounds particularly loathsome. However, if you’ve been managing a joint checking account where his money is deposited, then he was doing the very thing you’re dreading. If he was willing to do this, why shouldn’t you be?
In practice, certain recurring bills can be left for a wife to take care of. This would be the electricity, cell phone, internet, heat, and other such expenses. Make them part of her budget. But, the big things, including large purchases such as furniture or appliances, vacations, and payments on the house or car, should be handled by the husband.