Privacy in a Relationship: Eliminating the ‘We’ Identity

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Given I’m at home and have the time, Mr Thomas asked me to look for a few receipts for work we’ve had done on our house through the year (this following a fire in our bathroom, and the collapse of the garage ceiling – all in the same week!)

So I set to going through the cupboard where he keeps his papers, happy to be helping a man who has been working very hard, instead of simply cooking him a dinner which puts him into a food coma.

I had no idea how stressful I’d find it.

I started feeling nauseas and anxious given I was looking through Mr Thomas’s personal things. His bank statements. His credit card statements. For our entire time together, I’ve never been privy to my husband’s financial situation, and wish never to be. Following a tumultuous marriage in which I lost everything financially (and a part of myself emotionally), lines were clearly drawn with regard to personal finances early on in our relationship. For me, Mr Thomas’s finances are none of my business.

Of course, once we started living together, there had to be some kind of cooperation; financially. Yet we still, after eight and a half years together and two and a half years marriage, have not entered the realms of financial amalgamation.

A lot of our friends can’t get their head around how we can function without a joint bank account. But to be honest, it’s really quite easy. When the mortgage comes around, we each put in our half of the payment. When the bills turn up, we divide them equally.

Back in October, The Daily Mail reported that couples who merge finances feel more committed to one another. The study, by the University of Iowa, found that combining finances serves as a marker for how determined couples are to make a relationship work.

Apparently, having a collective economic unit creates a ‘we’ identity, something which solidifies a relationship.

What does it mean for me that I hate the thought of having a ‘we’ identity? Unromantic? Not committed? I don’t believe so. I really despise those ‘we’ couples. Individuality no longer exist in the relationship, which I believe leads to codependence, and a removal of one’s sense of self. For me, being a independent partner in a loving, supportive and respected relationship has given me the nourishment to grow as a person. And as an emotionally evolved person, or someone striving for that, I feel that Mr Thomas and I are able to communicate better as we are both completely aware of our sense of self.

We’ve never argued about money. While Mr Thomas feels that it makes sense having a joint bank account (in that it would be easier, at bill time, instead of sitting down together and calculating the division), he understands my needs to be separate. We’ve never had that argument that a lot of couples have over the spending one has made. Over a purchase that might have seemed frivolous to the other.

We don’t have the problem with begrudging the other for spending money on a night out, a pair of shoes, going to the movies – anything like that. Because when we spend money, we’re spending our own.

So because of this financial separation, I view anything to do with money as a personal boundary that should not be crossed. Privacy is important, even in a relationship. We all need the time and space just to be us, just to keep a little for ourselves.

Sorting through Mr Thomas’ private papers definitely felt like an invasion of privacy. The nausea set in, the increase of the heartbeat. I texted him. Not doing it.

He rang straight away and I explained that I did not feel good about going through his personal items. He reminded me that he asked me to do it, that he doesn’t care.

Which is when I realised that the line, the boundary, if you will, of privacy, is an invisible one. It makes us feel secure and comforted that we are each given our space to be ourselves, yet it doesn’t mean we can’t cross it every now and again, with permission. It doesn’t mean we can’t step back over it.

Having the boundary, solidified or not, has meant for a relationship built on mutual respect, and also trust. Trust means not stepping over the boundary without your partner’s knowledge. Tomorrow I’ll talk more about that… Snooping in a relationship.

24 thoughts on “Privacy in a Relationship: Eliminating the ‘We’ Identity

  1. Very practical, common sense approach. So many relationships lost over petty (sometimes not so petty) arguments over money. I hope nothing ever gets between you and your beloved Mr. Thomas. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    JMC

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  2. Nice article Giorge. My wife and I have a joint account, but only to make it easy to pay bills etc. Anything left over (not much!) is to be done with how we please (basically spent on our son haha)!

    One question though, how on earth do you have a fire in your BATHROOM?!!!!!!

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    1. The wiring in the exhaust fan caused it. This was back quite a few months ago, and was home for lunch. Luckily! I heard this loud crash in the bathroom and thought one of the cats had jumped into the shower again. When to investigate and there was this tunnel of flames from the floor where the fan had fallen, to the ceiling. Horrible great whooshing sound, too. I stood in the door way for a minute (well, am sure it was quicker than that but it felt like ages) and thought, Mmm. What should I do about that, then? Realised that water needed to enter the equation so went to the kitchen looking for a pan. Told myself, how are you going to throw water upwards? Realised I’d need a hose. There was a moment when I decided against getting the garden hose because I ‘didn’t want to make a mess.’ Then common sense kicked in and I realised that a little water in the house was nothing compared to the whole place burning down. I put out the fire and then rang 000. By then I started getting worried that the fire could still be raging in the ceiling so I waited outside.

      Let’s just say, it was a very eventful day. And tiring. Soot is a bastard to clean, let me tell you.

      I’m sure that thing would have to be different financially should children be involved, particularly as one of us would have to stay home with the bub and therefore wouldn’t be earning a wage. Yet even in that case, I wouldn’t give up my own account.

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      1. Wow, that sounds pretty damned scary! Glad you made it out of there! I’ll know who to call if my grill catches fire like it did the other day! Darn Panettone

        Joint account makes sense, but yeah, we both have separate accounts also. She ain’t having all of my money!!!

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        1. You’re hilarious.

          OMG – were you making panettone? Mr Thomas and I were just talking about that the other day. As in, who would bother with baking your own? That’s probably because we live in an Italian area and every supermarket has a ‘panettone pyramid’

          Did your grill survive?

          Have pity on me, Tom – the first day of the third Ashes test has just finished, and Australia ended up with 5/320 odd. This after England having them at 5/143 earlier in the day. England just can’t manage to finish off the tail. Quite upset.

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          1. God no, I wouldn’t even know HOW to make Panettone. I’m like you, why bother, just buy some! I was merely ‘toasting’ it under the grill and looked away for like, ten seconds and it was an inferno in there. We’ve just had our kitchen done as well so that would have been really bad news! All good in the end though. Apart from the charred remains of the Panettone!

            I don’t know what’s happened in the Cricket, England smashed the Aussies over here recently didn’t they? Must be the heat over there!!! I only count the Ashes when it’s in England anyway haha

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          2. I actually have a theory for why England are doing so bad, and it’s just a theory…

            I don’t believe they’re getting any. Can be the only reason. Has to be.

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          3. Ah, no! Chocolate panettone? It’s not right. Plain fruit and peel only. That’s like chocolate hot cross buns. They’re not authentic! You would not be a welcome guest in our house at Christmas, my friend. (BTW; where are you? When I was in the UK a couple of years ago, I couldn’t find any panettone. Or cherries. Didn’t feel like Christmas at all. Plus there was this weird white stuff on the ground…)

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          4. Haha, I’m in Southampton down on the south coast. Maybe it’s a new revelation here, but go in any supermarket and you will find a panettone. I will be getting a fruit one for Christmas for sure!

            We don’t see snow that often!!

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  3. That’s the approach to finance I’ve always taken, as keeping a sense of your own space and individuality is much easier in a relationship, if you don’t feel the full pressure of having to conform to your partner’s financial expectations in everything you do (and vice versa). Also, the degree of freedom you enjoy from knowing you can buy another pair of shoes/handbag/treat without justification, offsets a lot of areas where you do need to share and will often make any compromise in other issues much easier to negotiate.

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  4. “Individuality no longer exist in the relationship, which I believe leads to codependence, and a removal of one’s sense of self.”

    I am totally in agreement. While it may work for some, it definitely does not work for me. I have found myself ‘lost’ in prior relationships.

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  5. True true and oh yeah true. I lived in both of them once. It is strange how much better you work together when you have it separated. Sure there can be an issue (supermarket wise) but still it works better.
    Having a little space and when point comes to shove you still put it together anyway.
    As to tress pass boundaries. What you have with finances of Mr Thomas I have with woman’s bag (sound Familiar). One of the items I never go and dig in. Not even with permission. Just a big No NO.
    Keep smiling that smile.

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    1. Yes, handbags are women’s Aladdin’s cave. Except when we’re out and a certain someone says, ‘can I put my sunglasses in your bag?’

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  6. Very good thoughts there Giorge. Obviously, what works for many may not work for some, and given your past experiences I completely understand your feelings about separate finances. Glad you were able to talk through the uncomfortableness and find a place of acceptance and understanding for your own feelings. That’s a good relationship you have.

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