Money is the leading cause for divorce. Couples frequently aren't sure the best options for handling their finances when they get married. It can be hard to join finances, especially for couples marrying later in life who have their finances down to a science - for themselves. Should couples automatically join finances? That's a tough decision, but let's look at the pros and cons of this so you can make the best decision for you.
My husband and I graduated college and got married. It was very easy to join our finances. We had everything deposited into one account and paid everything out of that account. All of our money, regardless of who earns it, is both of ours. Thinking like this from the beginning has helped us handle many years where I never earned a penny. I became a stay at home mom when my oldest was one and we relied solely on my husband's income for a long time. We had the mindset all along of joint finances, so it worked perfectly. If you do not think this way, and you believe everything should be equal, then you might have problems with combining finances.
Ideally, both people should feel confident that sharing all the finances - the income and the expenses - is the right thing. If one person thinks it is unfair, or nit-picks how much the other spends, or charges up the credit card every month to the limit, then joining finances might not work.
If one person has a child from a previous marriage, it might be a good idea to keep separate finances in order to take care of child support or alimony payments. Legally, things might be better kept separate in this case. If one partner is irresponsible with money or brings a lot of debt into the marriage then it might cause hard feelings with the other partner. To keep the peace, so to speak, it might be better to keep things separate. When one partner constantly overspends, it could quickly sink the whole ship. Keeping things separate could prevent this from happening.
I believe that it makes a marriage stronger to share the finances - good and bad. You can count on each other to cover whatever comes up. I read a blog where the couple keeps separate finances. They have everything allocated out as to who pays what. When one flounders the other does not appear to help them out. The wife let the husband almost go bankrupt and would not help him. I think this type of behavior could easily cause divorce. They made it through but not everyone could get through that without a lot of resentment and hard feelings - on both sides.
Just because you share all finances doesn't mean that it has to be in just one account. You could each have your own accounts, with your own expenses to be paid out of them, while still sharing all expenses and income. I see this a lot, especially with stay at home moms. They have their own account (both people are signers though, so it is still shared) and each month get a set amount of money deposited to be spent on certain things - usually groceries, clothing, haircuts, gas, etc. Everything is still shared, just divided up based on who handles the most spending in those areas.
Regardless of whether you combine your money or not, it is still important to create the budget together. You should each know where all the money is going. Both partners should have input in all financial decisions if combining money will work long term. It is very unusual for two adults to make the exact same income. If you do choose to keep separate accounts, do not divide everything up 50/50, this will not work. You should figure out an appropriate percentage for each to contribute based on how much money you each make. This way one person isn't paying most of their salary while the other is paying very little of theirs. Again, it prevents resentment.
Dealing with money issues is tough; people can get very defensive, very quickly. Different solutions will work for different couples. Many people have success keeping things separate, while many do well combining everything. Some couples do a combination of shared and separate finances. Hopefully this article will help you figure out what is best for you and your partner, so that your marriage can succeed without fighting over money.