In a few days, Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July. With fireworks, flags, and a whole lot of barbecue, we will cheerfully commemorate our country’s heritage– our independence. What we may not realize is just how much this basic American value has shaped our relationships.
Independence can be a valuable attribute in many contexts –but in marriage it can have a sneaky sting. And nowhere is this more pronounced than around that oh-so-prevalent issue of money. .
In doing research for our new book Thriving in Love and Money, my husband Jeff and I interviewed an incredibly diverse array of people, and kept noticing one problem between husbands and wives: a resistance to becoming one. Even though most married couples see marriage as two people who have been inextricably bonded for life, too many of us still subconsciously hold ourselves back in some way. We still want our “independence.”
Before you are tempted to think, “I would never do that,” ask yourself if you have ever wanted to do any of the following:
- pull the Amazon package off the step before your spouse sees it
- keep a separate savings account “just in case”
- seek financial help from a family member without your spouse really knowing about it
- Cover certain bills yourself to prove your self-sufficiency
If any of these behaviors resonated with you, you are not alone. As our research suggests, most married people tend to hold onto independence in some way. But if we want our marriages to thrive, we need to resist our claims to independence when it comes to money, and truly open ourselves up to our spouse. How do we do that? In this blog series, we will look at habits to fight and what to do about them.