Can a joint bank account help your marriage?

A large number of studies show that couples who share their finances are generally happier with each other. For example, a University of Missouri survey published in Money Magazine reported that 39% of women and 25% of men included financial dissatisfaction when using separate bank accounts. Only 13% of women and 7% of men who use joint accounts reported dissatisfaction.

University College of London’s Joe Gladstone, Notre Dame’s Emily Garbinsky and UCLA Anderson’s Cassie Mogilner Holmes go even further. They found that long-term committed couples who pool all their money into joint bank accounts are significantly happier. Not only are they happier, but they are less likely to break up.

So, which comes first – happiness or sharing assets? After all, it is possible that happier people, to begin with, will more likely share their money. However, they disagree with this, “Our findings are not simply the result of more satisfied couples being more likely to join their accounts. Rather, these results demonstrate that method of account management (a joint account) can also influence relationship quality.”

What they are saying is that their research showed that sharing a joint account creates more happiness in a relationship. There are good reasons to keep a separate account. For some, having a separate account gives a sense of control and independence.

Having separate funds may help one to leave an abusive relationship.
Unfortunately, for some, separate funds are used to maintain financial secrets. A 2017 survey by TD Ameritrade reported that one-third of married participants admit they aren’t 100 percent “financially faithful” to their spouse. It appears that some people are not honest and upfront with their spouses about how they spend their money.

Using joint bank accounts may considerably lower dissatisfaction in a relationship. Based on my experience doing marriage counseling, I agree with these results. Even using a combination of joint and separate accounts significantly reduces dissatisfaction in a relationship.

Being in a relationship is about sharing. It is about sharing yourself, sharing your possessions, sharing decision-making, sharing goals, and sharing your money. Merging bank accounts is a tangible, useful, and concrete way to increase your sense of togetherness, unity, and happiness in your relationship.

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