We didn't always have such a drama-free arrangement. Shortly after we got married, I argued that we should keep more of our money separate. I had a savings account that I started building up at age five; couldn't that remain under my name only? But at the same time, I wanted him to share all of his pre-marital savings. In her book Flux, Peggy Orenstein describes a similar urge, and points out how unfair it is: "Too often…particularly in the early years of our marriage, I viewed my earnings as mine and Steven's as ours. I wanted to be equal partners, but… I also wanted him to take care of me."
We should have had the big money talk—in a coffee shop. Financial experts say that just as you don't want to bring up sex suggestions in the midst of an intimate moment, you also don't want to talk about money habits when you're in the middle of a big transaction. Bringing up the subject on "neutral" territory like a coffee shop can help avoid flared tempers.
After much discussion—and one heated argument on a long car ride—we reached the conclusion that it wasn't right for one of us to hoard our savings while the other shared his. Since we had the same, generally frugal outlook on spending and saving, we decided we could accomplish our shared goals just as well, and with a lot less paperwork, with one account. I didn't want to go out to dinner and wonder if I needed to offer to pay, or calculate how to split the costs of a weekend getaway.
And since we're both so cheap that even buying a cup of coffee requires an internal debate over whether it's worth the cost, it works. No one's getting mad about the other person's wayward habits. (Well, except when it comes to my pedicures and his cable, but we've both learned to accept those splurges.)