How To Approach Your Partner About Not Wanting To Merge Finances When You're Married

The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts says that the top three leading causes of a relationship split are incompatibility, infidelity, and money. Despite money being such a top stressor in partnerships, 56% of the 2000 adults surveyed in a recent OnePoll study felt that discussing finances with others is wrong.

When two people combine their households together in a marriage, civil partnership, or long-term committed relationship, merging finances has been the norm — at least for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Millennials aren't so sure. Their parents and grandparents signaled their legal commitment with a joint account. But younger generations are less prone to jump in and continue the tradition.

If money disagreements are a leading cause of disharmony, yet a huge percentage of the population thinks it's taboo to discuss money, that's a perfect storm. You don't want to find yourself needing to confront a partner who makes decisions without you. The resistance to discussing the topic is real, but to keep your relationship healthy, here are some helpful ways to approach your partner.

First, understand your differences

"Opposites attract" can apply to physical appearance, life philosophy, spiritual beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. We may find ourselves in love with someone who comes from an utterly different culture, country, and upbringing than ours.

But even if your soulmate grew up five blocks from you, the parental messages you got about money and how it was handled in your homes growing up might be wildly different. Your families have influenced your money mindsets in unseen ways. Note for yourself what those differences are before you approach your significant other for A Big Talk. 

Also, notice how your communication styles differ or are similar. Which one's the introvert? Who's more chatty and shares openly? Is one of you more stoic, or is the other vulnerable? And in the past, how have your different communication styles impacted the effectiveness of implementing major life decisions? If one of you avoids looking at your bank account balance and the other boldly dives in to confront everything money-related, you'll need to navigate the spirit of your conversation with diplomacy.

How to have the talk with your partner

A talk about whether or not to pool your money together should happen early, before marriage. We recommend that your attitude going in is to remember that you're each other's champions. When two people maintain their financial independence, it could give each person an empowering sense of agency.

Millennial Wealth Management urges couples discussing what to do with their money to be totally transparent. Make an agreement ahead of time to fully listen to each other and not interrupt. If you're feeling hesitant about how to start, you could break the ice by saying you were doing some research online and saw statistics that money can cause deep divisions when it's not discussed openly, and that it's important to you to keep your relationship healthy. Offer to disclose what accounts you have and ask your partner to do the same.

Be curious. Ask each other questions. Hash out how you'll handle household expenses. If you're going to propose that you not merge your money, be clear, kind, and direct about why. For example, you might prefer to keep spending habits separate because of differing income levels or debt loads. Psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Mann told InStyle, "It is too easy to control or feel controlled when everything comes from a shared account. This tends to create a lot of power struggles, whereas having a joint account with individual accounts strikes a balance that I believe is key to minimizing conflict."