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.