Dear Dr. Faizal,

My husband and I are newly married and we share all of our money. This is new to both of us and even though we discussed it before getting married, issues keep arising. I like to spoil myself every now and then by getting my nails done, treating myself to a dinner, or getting a massage. I don’t do these things too often, but I work hard and like to unwind. He says he doesn’t do the equivalent so it’s not really fair. How can we work this out?

– It’s My Money Too

Dear It’s My Money Too,

Congratulations on your recent marriage! Marriage is a sharing of many things, including, but not limited to, time spent together, living space, and, of course, finances – all of which, when agreed upon, build trust between the partners.

Over the course of a marriage, however, this trust is tested. Some couples, for example, may face a partner’s infidelity, while others may deal with issues relating to in-laws’ interference, etc. One prominent concern between most married partners is how, when, and how much money should be spent and by whom.

When you were single, you probably had no one to answer to, no one to explain where and how much you wanted to spend. As a wife, you now must consider your husband’s opinion on finances (what to spend on and how much), which, in the example you’ve given, is different from yours. Marriage is about partners understanding the needs of the other, and appreciating that certain needs remain, even after the couple says their I dos.

Prohibiting certain needs that have developed over time could lead to discontent, within the partners and the marriage, in general. If you stop spoiling yourself now and then (not meeting your needs), because your husband “doesn’t do the equivalent,” you may resent your husband and eventually sneak around to get your nails done or get a massage. This would be a form of ‘cheating,’ which would test the trust you both have nurtured this far.

You and your husband must realize that even though you are newlyweds (and probably considering the ideal of two lives becoming one), and “share all of [your] money,” successful marriages are those in which partners still maintain a sense of individuality and personal care (separate from their partner). Perhaps you and your husband could agree that both of your paycheques (minus, say 20%) be placed in a joint bank account, from which you both would determine how the balance is used. Now, the other 20% is yours to use in any manner you wish – whether it’s for “getting [your] nails done, treating [yourself] to a dinner, or getting a massage.” This amount is for self-care, and only you are responsible for your care.

If both you and your husband balance working hard with self-care, you will be more productive at work and be happier within yourselves and with each other.

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