Monday, June 4, 2012

Intimacy over Money Matters

When Michelle and I were courting, we deliberately opened a joint savings account in which we deposited a part of our monthly salary. This was in preparation for our marriage. Little did we realize that we were beginning on a journey of building financial intimacy into our future lives.

The phrase "financial intimacy" was introduced to me two years ago when I met Dr Wayde Goodall, Founder of Worldwide Family, Inc and Dean, College of Ministry, Northwest University in Seattle.

Like many of you, I never thought that there is such a thing as intimacy in financial matters between my wife and I. Intimacy, after all, is almost always associated with the sexual aspects. The dictionary defines it as "close familiarity or friendship; closeness". But think again, why shouldn't there be close familiarity on how you and your spouse handle finances?

Many couples quarrel over money, both for the lack of it and when there is too much. What an irony!

Many marriage counselors attest that while many couples quarrel over money, the real issue is not in the pieces of paper called money itself. Money is merely a tool for accomplishing one's life goals.

There is apt Chinese saying "钱不是万能,但没钱就万万不能“, which literally means that while money can't buy you everything, one can't buy anything without money.

Money is essential and is surely needed to fulfill our needs and wants. And that is why many couples quarrel over it.

But let me submit to you that the real issue of those quarrels is that the couple did not consider each other in the use of their money (notice that I used the word "their"). This is the same whether they have too little or too much money.

Right from the beginning of our relationship, Michelle and I adopted the attitude that all that we have belongs to the both of us. Therefore, there is a responsibility to each other on how to use those assets. We have maintained an intimate transparency over our finances from the very start of our lives together.

Since the establishment of our first joint savings account, we continued to operate only joint accounts. There are two exceptions; one that she used to receive commissions from a company she worked for and one that I was forced to have in order to receive my NS pay from the SAF when I was first conscripted). However, almost 100% of our money is in joint accounts, which Michelle and I can withdraw from individually.

I have heard a rich man telling me he does not agree to have his money in a joint account with his wife because his wife will know how rich he is. He is worried that his wife will then ask for lots of money from him.

I have also heard a number of women saying that they must have their own "secret" account so as to be independent, just in case.....

The fundamental issue under-pinning these beliefs boils down to just one word - trust, or rather the lack of it, in each other. This is the crux of the matter when a couple quarrels over finances.

Michelle and I love each other to the point that we can totally trust each other with everything. My money is her money and her money is my money. While we do not discuss and debate over every thing that we want to spend on, we are always mindful of each other when we need to spend our money. And we do discuss whenever we need to spend on any big-ticket items.

There is transparency and intimacy in the way we handle our finances. And I firmly believe that this is the reason why Michelle and I never quarrel over finances.

There is indeed such a thing called "financial intimacy". It is real and it is very helpful for building a great marriage relationship because the matter at the heart of this is really the trust in one another.

Great lovers must trust each other, and trusting each other over financial matters is a sure pillar for a great marriage. Believe me, I have more than 30 years of experience!


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1 comment:

Francis Ng said...

I totally agree with Steven's write out. Sharon and I started joint account when we first got married. This is a 100 percent joint account regardless of whose account is it. Since then we have never "fight", argue or quarrel over financial matters even when we are financially down during one stage. We are always make sure each other wallet has sufficient money. This has brought us more intimate and we don't take each other for granted when we spend on things that we like. We will automatically tell each other what we have spent. We believe trust is the most important mater in marriage.