Money and Marriage: How to Avoid Financial Fights

Friday, Apr 9, 2010  |  Updated 4:04 AM CDT
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Separating Love and Money

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Experts say the best marital unions may also mean some financial separation.

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Separating Love and Money

Experts say the best marital unions may also mean some financial separation.
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Experts say the best marital unions may also mean some financial separation.

Psychotherapist Karen Brown says separate spending accounts can help couples who have very different ideas about spending.

"This is not your grandma's generation," she said. "It's a new day, and we have to handle our money in a way that makes sense for the couples of today."

Elizabeth and Drew Ray, who have been married for almost three years, said their union is solid, despite differences in spending.

Elizabeth Ray says she spends on accessories such as shoes and handbags, as well as clothes.

"You can never have too many shoes," she said.

But her husband, who is more of a saver, questioned the charges that piled into their joint account.

"I was getting a lot of phone calls at work, 'What was this charge? What was that?' And, 'Can I have an itemized list?'" Elizabeth Ray said.

The Rays decided that a separate spending account for Elizabeth Ray could help keep the peace.

Drew Ray said that while his wife may want more in the account, the arrangement has allowed them to find middle ground.

Brown suggested couples avoid referring to a separate spending account as an "allowance" because it suggests one person has power over the other.

She also said couples can bond over joint accounts for home expenses and savings. If both people work, each person should contribute a percentage for bills, she said.

"If both parties feel that things are fair, then there's not going to be resentment," she said. "It's when one person feels controlled or in less of a powerful position. That's going to be a problem."

NBC DFW's Meredith Land contributed to this report.

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