A Couple's Guide To Joint Finances


commitment: a couple's guide to joint finances
Considering opening a joint account with your significant other? Here are six things to consider.

Couples have to work out a way to take care of financial matters that they both are involved in and this can be as source of conflict within the relationship. These decisions are all about the money — the rent or mortgage payments, the dollars that are spent on the electric bill, the increasing cost of cable or satellite television and the necessary expense of groceries. When a couple commits to joining finances as a business decision (focusing on the money) they miss out on some other key aspects of joint finances.

Making a long-term commitment to another person is as much an emotional decision as it is a financial decision. In the business world, it is easy to focus on the finances of a merger. Reducing coming together as a couple (whether through marriage or a decision to cohabitate) to business terms can devalue the spiritual and emotional bonds that have been formed or are being formed. As you take on this commitment, it's important for you to remember that your partner may change. In many ways, you are becoming one (while still retaining your own identity). Emotionally, entering into joint finances is significant. That is not to say that within this broader context that good fiscal decisions do not need to be made, rather that they should not overshadow the whole situation.


Deciding to join finances is a way of demonstrating care for each other. There is an important symbolic dimension of joint finances. Contributing to the joint finances shows that you want to look out for what your partner needs. This is equally the case if you are contributing money to the partnership or whether you are using your talents and energy to manage the partnership.

Working on joint finances enables you to discern both of your relative strengths. Effective partnerships capitalize on the strengths of each partner. Being able to work out who is better at planning, executing, tracking and adjusting finances is a skill that the couple will be able to use in other situations where relative strengths also have to be discovered. Being able to talk openly about this is a skill that may be new to you, but you'll learn to admit when your partner is better at something and to assert your own strengths as the relationship matures. Keep reading...

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The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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