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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Money, the big "taboo" in a relationship according to the Guardian

18 replies

BlingLoving · 15/07/2013 11:35


This article has given me the rage. It's a taboo because it's easier for men to keep it that way. This guy acknowledges his wife's issues with their financial arrangement, but doesn't see the problem. Thinks it's okay for him to have more financial power because she gets to make decisions about the family. Oh for pete's sake. For a start, I bet if she offered to go back to work full time and take on the financial responsibility so that he can then cut back his hours and take ont he family responsibility he'd run screaming from the room.

OP posts:
happyyonisleepyyoni · 15/07/2013 15:17

There's threads in AIBU and Relationships. Unsurprisingly everyone thinks he's an abusive wanker!

Nonsensical · 15/07/2013 15:19

Yes this piece incensed me too ...

TeiTetua · 15/07/2013 18:46

I was struck by the very quick dismissal of an obvious plan: "The idea that when you get married all your finances merge into one, strikes both of us as rather archaic. We both want to have our own money and bank accounts, rather than everything being in just one joint account."

It's obvious that if each of them has their own account, his will be a lot larger than hers, unless he periodically equalizes them, and even if he did that, it would be a loud message about who's bringing in the cash. Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer to see the money merged, with nothing said about who puts in the most, and call it archaic if you want. Of course, that assumes that each of the two partners will trust the other, and they won't either spend the joint money extravagantly, or be quick to accuse the other of doing so. But isn't that what being compatible means?

The well-known archaic words say "With all my worldly goods I thee endow". I think that should mean you're as happy to see your partner spend your money as you would be to spend it yourself--and if there's a problem with that, it's a sign of trouble.

BasilBabyEater · 15/07/2013 20:05

Like many men, he's happy to buy into the archaic things that benefit him (women doing most of the domestic work and childcare and earning less and men having more power in their relationships) and not into those things that don't - like a joint bank account when you're married.

What an arse.

Must go and see other thread...

samandi · 15/07/2013 21:20

The income inequalities also mean that if there's a big expense, like a foreign holiday or house improvements, I tend to have the last say. She feels that infantilises her, as she needs to "ask me".

I can't say that I would find that acceptable.

Why on earth would you NOT want to have equal disposable income, if you loved someone and were in a serious long-term relationship with them? The mind boggles.

It's a bit of a weird article, talking about power/control/authority over the financial and domestic spheres ... which all sounds rather archaic, somewhat ironically, considering this is something they don't want to be ...

DontcallmeSteven · 16/07/2013 07:58

Just read the article this morning, I nearly spat my breakfast out. What a revolting man. He seems to treat his marriage like a business relationship where he contributes a bigger share and is therefore entitled to more votes. I wonder how his wife feels seeing it written down in print (if she reads his columns), perhaps she will realise how awful it is.

AutumnMadness · 16/07/2013 11:43

If this guy can't peg out washing correctly, he really should not be writing for the Guardian.

Woodhead · 16/07/2013 12:29

I've been struggling with this article (and some of the other threads on this article) as I'm aware that my views and gut feelings are not as consistent with feminism on this issue as I'd like.

I don't have and don't want a joint account. I like my current account to be mine and I have no desire to scrutinise my DPs account. I don't want anyone else scrutinising my monthly spending (although it's fairly boring).

I'm mulling over the comment on having or wanting equal disposable income, as in theory my DP has way more accumulated savings (and higher income) than I do, but because I also earn an ample sufficiency in practical terms we both have all we want to fritter away, and both tend to save the excess. All the savings have been accumulated within marriage, so legally it's a single pot anyway whatever the name is on individual savings accounts, property etc.

Clearly in the case in question there is a problem as the wife feels infantalised, so it looks as if something there aught to be changed; but if they both want to keep seperate accounts, for whatever reason, then is that in itself the problem? If the wife feels she doesn't have an equal say in financial decisions, would that be made better by a joint account? Surely the husband needs a change in attitude so they both feel they have equal voice.

TeiTetua · 16/07/2013 15:25

I really do think it's better to have a joint account and not too much attention given to who makes the biggest contribution to it. We tend to have an attitude that things are only valued if they translate directly into money, so it's easy to ignore a woman's contribution to a relationship if it's in the form of keeping the household running rather than being cash. Something that's priceless being treated as worthless, maybe.

But then again, if a couple likes the idea of each having a bank account that comes from money they each earn, and which they don't have to justify to the other when they spend it, that might be fine--call it "walking-around money". But I think it's generally a better plan to have a household economy that's socialist rather than capitalist.

Woodhead · 18/07/2013 10:01

I like the notion of a socialist houshold economy, particularly with children/dependents. I'm aware that my preference for seperate finances only really works as we're both doing a similar mix of paid work/household work. If we had children, I'm sure we'd have to sort out at least a joint or seperate child-costs account.

As a point of principle though, if completely merged finances are "better" from a feminist perspective; how should "ownership" of such accounts be set up? It seems common for there to be a primary account holder, and a secondary one. Surely this should somehow be altered so there is no "ranking". Also in addressing post etc, people have difficulty currently regarding the first account holder also being the addressee; where some name has to be first and another second, this will always require some "rule" or "rules" to be set up.

What options are there for completely neutral joint addressing. Could there be mail to Account#-dhbfvsdjkk on an envelope and no actual names?

AutumnMadness · 18/07/2013 10:41

Woodhead, I just always assumed that my husband and I have equal rights over our joint account. We receive mail in both our names. I never cared which one comes first, I am not even sure now. We both can write checks, have internet banking, transfer money, make decisions on the mortgage that is tied to the account, etc. Both of our signatures are required to close the account.

One thing we never argue about is money (we argue lots about housework instead). We just always assumed that everything we earn is our common property. We both work outside the house. But it would have been the same if one of us was not earning. The joint account used to be mine before we got together. My husband still have his own account. We just never bothered to change this. But I know exactly what's in it and the money in it is as much mine as it is his. It's just easier this way for us.

Woodhead · 18/07/2013 11:12

Thanks Autumn, there's another thread atm where several people are commenting that despite doing all the account admin, post is addressed to their DH first and them second, and calls regarding the account are directed to their DH. This seems to vary a lot between banks, so perhaps some are fine and others not so much.

I was just mulling over that if the operation of the joint account favours the DH for whatever reason, then that might make it sufficiently annoying to prefer seperate accounts. Good (and reassuring) that yours is fine.

We don't have money conflict either, but housework is also more of an issue. (Neither of us likes it, both of us would like it if the other did more....)

Trills · 18/07/2013 11:27

I find it very odd that a seemingly intelligent person can't find an answer to "what's the alternative?".

Er, the alternative is that you arrange it so that you have equal disposable income. Duh. Is that so difficult to imagine?

AutumnMadness · 18/07/2013 11:32

Woodhead, you are totally right, most banks would put the man's name first and direct the calls to the man. But is up to the individual couple to decide how to deal with that. Name order is annoying, but it's just words on paper. In dealing with calls, the couple can simply agree never to make any decisions regarding the account without consulting the other. I don't think these minor symbolic annoyances make joint accounts less convenient than separate ones. But banks may also vary in whether they actually require one of the people on the account to be the decision-maker and, if true, this is just nonsense that makes life unnecessarily difficult.

But again, if people just treat all money earned in the family as owned in common, then even separate account is not a problem. I can always say to DH "please transfer so much into my account" and he never bats an eyelid. Same for when he asks to use the joint account to pay his mahooosive credit card bill.

But housework - yes, this is just GHAAAAA!

Poledra · 18/07/2013 11:41

"I was just mulling over that if the operation of the joint account favours the DH for whatever reason, then that might make it sufficiently annoying to prefer separate accounts."

IME, the name which comes first on the joint account depends upon which of you filled out the paperwork. So, on our mortgage account, DH's name comes first, as he filled out the paperwork. On our credit card account, I come first, as I took out the card and he is an 'associate' card holder. Our third joint account has my name first, as it was opened at a bank where I had an account already and I instigated the opening of the new account. On both the joint accounts, either of us can handle the phone calls etc as we are both named on them. Only I can speak to the credit card people, as he is an associate holder and not a holder in his own right.

Woodhead · 18/07/2013 12:22

I think symbolism is important though. Minor in comparison to many issues, but still important.

If, on aggregate, joint post is addressed about 50:50 in terms of name order, then it wouldn't rankle; but when there's a systematic bias one way or the other, then I do think it's problematic.

The order being consistent with that on the initial paperwork does seem to be the only reasonable solution.

Going back to the OP though, if the couple's attitudes are unequal (i.e. I have more say as I earn more), then I don't see that a joint account/seperate accounts/some hybrid of both will fix the issue that one partner does not view the other as their equal.

Trills · 18/07/2013 12:43

I feel like this is the Guardian getting in on the Daily-mail-style Samantha-Brick-style trolling.

They printed this because it would get a lot of attention and a lot of links.

JacqueslePeacock · 18/07/2013 13:32

Ugh, Tim Lott is so odious. I feel quite vindicated by this article actually, as I've been saying he's an unpleasant little man for weeks.

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