One of the features of the “modern relationship” is financial separation, although the couple is married, each of them is earning and spending his own money separately, without consulting the other, without sharing the money or managing it together. One of the reasons of financial separation could be the emancipation of women: they are no longer the ones who need financial support and the men lost their “responsible for resources” status, being no longer the ones who brought food to the table and protected the family; it is a declaration of independence for her, it is the way she tells him ”I am with you for who you are inside” and at the same time “I can leave you anytime I want because I don’t need you to support me”. The balance of power in couples is finally stable.

Even if there have been substantial increases in women's labor force participation, and their income over the last thirty years, this subject didn’t come to the attention of family life researchers until the 80’s. The first important studies focusing on the organization of money in the household are those of Wilson (1987a), Pahl (1989; 1990; 1995) and Vogler (1998; Vogler and Pahl 1993; 1994) who analyze the organization of income by married couples. Their work highlights two key issues: firstly, money earned by wives is perceived differently from the money earned by husbands both in the way it is recognized and in the way that it is spent. To be more specific, Zelizer’s (1994) results show that women's wages are seen as 'extra' or 'secondary'. It has also been found that extra income brought into the household by women is more likely to be used for the family than income brought to the household by men (Pahl 1989; 1990). Secondly, household income is not distributed equally between its individuals. This might explain the financial separation we see in the present.

This could become even more problematic for some men, who although embrace a modern life style, have more traditional values, and the decisions taken by the women without consulting them could signify castration at a certain level and could result in a feeling of insecurity. He no longer controls resources; he is losing elements of his gender role, in opposition to the woman: she has the spiritual role in the family…she is even improving, because nowadays our society strongly promotes personal development and the development of communication skills. Society promotes open discussions on intimate subjects: we talk about how we feel in difficult situations, about our sexual experiences, but it seems to be taboo to ask your partner what he spends his salary on.
Still, taking into consideration marriage as an institution, when the two decide to tie the knot, what you basically have are two people that signed a lifelong contract that makes them co-managers. An institution is supposed to have a single budget, which, after negotiations and common decisions, is divided according to the institution’s needs, and every manager is responsible for his part of the budget. Social studies show that where both partners are in comparable labor market positions they are more likely to share income (Vogler and Pahl 1993). Cheal (1993) finds that an increase in female employment increases ‘joint householding' rather than separate organization of income. If each manager had a separate budget to begin with there would be two institutions working together.

One of the arguments of the couples that are financially separate is the fact that money is the source of most fights and this is the way to have a peaceful life together. Still, if the two are not able to share money, that is paper which allows you to get material things, how are they going to share the more important and profound elements of a couple’s life? What happens when the two have very different incomes? This could mean that they cannot share the pleasant things that only one of them can afford, or the fact that when one partner no longer has an income he will become very stressed and insecure, so one of the family’s fundamental roles is lost – the support role.

Not sharing resources makes today’s sentimental life a lot simpler and safer because family life lasts a lot less than it used to decades ago and couples split up and build up more often, so the resources that remain at the same person don’t diminish, no matter how many relationships that person is involved in. According to Heimdal and Houseknecht (2003) cohabiting couples are more likely to keep some money separate than married couples and the fact that one of the partners has ever been divorced influences the likelihood of keeping some money separate from the rest of the family.

It is quite clear that the pieces of paper we use to obtain material things are a symbol of security and control that people cannot risk losing by sharing them with the partner. If, as Singh and Lindsay suggest, marriage is a representation of trust (reflected in sharing money), then the financial separation is a sign of lack of trust in the partner, or not enough trust when it comes to managing resources. The distrust could result in early separation of couples, and if we take into consideration the above researches, the new couples will share money even less than the first, so the distrust pattern is perpetuated.

Author's Bio: 

I am a certified Clinical Psychologist, Counselor, Life Coach and I provide face to face and online services. I am also certified in other psychology fields such as Labor and Organizational Psychology and I used to work as a corporate psychologist and a soft-skills trainer. My professional training includes courses on counseling persons suffering from alcohol abuse, pre and post abortion trauma, and decision-making counseling

Visit my website , and learn how you can benefit from free e-mail counseling in English & Romanian and other free resources.