Dear Grandchildren, This is What Saved My Marriage

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Categories: Advice from Grandma - One Generation to Another, Things that Matter

I’m writing to you about money. I have been married for 40 years and I feel that one of the things that has saved my marriage was having separate bank accounts.

Dear Grandchildren, when I first got married to grandpa, we had a joint checking account. I didn’t like asking permission to spend money or to be questioned about each thing I decided to buy.

Back when we used checks for everything, my husband wouldn’t always balance the checkbook and he would say, “I’m sure there’s enough money in the account, go ahead and use some.”

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That was usually the wrong answer, and I was spending money that wasn’t there. In the days before online banking, my sister-in-law used to call the bank everyday to find out if the checks she’d written had cleared the bank. If the account showed she still had money, she would spend it. That didn’t work out well for her, either. She always seemed to be bouncing checks.

So, dear Grandchildren, after I started working, the first thing I did was to get my own checking and savings accounts. We each paid for certain bills and obligations, but I didn’t have to tell grandpa if I bought him a Christmas gift or how much I spent on a pair of shoes.

I’d like to share another example where having separate bank accounts was the main thing that saved a young couple’s marriage. When I was a young mother, I lived next door to a man everyone called Budwig, who came from India. He told me that he came to this country first to find a place to live and he was waiting for his wife to come over from India.

Budwig probably lived alone for about a year before his wife Sariah arrived. Since she was trained as a nurse, it was easy for her to get a Visa to come and work in this country. I had been friends with Budwig first, and naturally I liked his wife, Sariah as soon as we met. I may have been the only person she knew in the country when she first moved here. They were both working, and during the time I lived next door to them, they had a child together.

One day Sariah, who was making the most money, complained to me that her husband controlled all the money and sent money back to his family in India. She said she needed money to take care of her child. “What should I do?” she asked.

I told her to get separate bank accounts. I said, “If you have an account in your own name, you can make deposits and he can’t touch your money. Let him send his own money to his family, while you take care of your family.”

She was delighted. Once she got her own account, she was much happier.

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