Why I no longer want a joint bank account with my husband

Lady Speak
By Mum-in-chief | Sat,Sep 09 2017 09:40:00 EAT

Before couples get married, there is the mandatory pre-marital class before the wedding. In the three-week classes, couples are taught about marriage breakers to steer from. One that is always highlighted is the danger of having separate bank accounts.

The school of thought is that having separate account introduces trust issues and lack of transparency. With that knowledge, when we had our ‘wedding’ (ours was a come-we-stay that finally became official), in my quest to be a loyal wife, I desisted from keeping ‘mpango wa kando’ accounts. How come it is always women who have this Plan B? But I digress.

We have our salary accounts and this joint account that we have been running for years. Each of us is required to bank a certain amount every month depending on their salary. The account is basically for savings but if there is an emergency, I can withdraw - of course with consent from my husband. And that is where trouble starts. For the period that we have run this joint account, I have come to discover that it brings more friction than trust.

Given that I am the family’s financial manager, I always find there is need to withdraw cash for an emergency. One time, an aunt’s farm had been attacked by vicious pests and she needed cash for pesticides. Another time, a dear orphaned girl was on the verge of being kicked out of school and needed school fees. I cannot look away from such genuine and desperate cases.

So most of the time I am withdrawing cash from the account for philanthropy and this has often set me on a collision path with my husband. He has formed an opinion that I am a spendthrift. Now I have to justify every coin I spend and I feel ‘bullied’. On many occasions, I have toyed with this idea: “What if I opened a separate account where I can be withdrawing cash when I need it without explaining to anybody?” That is the financial independence I desperately need.

So you can imagine my joy when I bumped into an article titled, “How separate bank accounts are the secret of a long and happy marriage ...” in a very credible UK publication. Research by consumer finance website MoneyMagpie.com found that couples are choosing to keep their finances separate and they are happier. The survey shows that contrary to popular belief, love and romance is not the real secret of a long and happy marriage, but having separate bank accounts.

The 2,000 adult respondents said amalgamating income - and especially savings - was likely to cause irreversible rifts that could end in break-ups. The research blamed divorce-inducing quarrels on outdated monetary ties - like having joint accounts.

For somebody who is toying with the idea of having separate accounts, this is truly liberating. My query is, this. Should I inform husband first? What if he says no, should I go ahead with it? I need a post-marital class.

The writer is a married working mother of a toddler boy and a pre-school girl. She shares her experience of juggling between career, family and social life.

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