Search Shepherd wealth Partners


Marrying Bank Accounts

A recent study out of Indiana University has shed light on an intriguing connection between combined finances and the longevity and happiness of marriages.  There’s now scientific research that supports the merging of financial resources and bank accounts in a marriage. The study recruited and followed 230 couples over their first two years of marriage and tracked their marriages over time.  The researchers found that those who shared their bank accounts to be generally happier and with stronger marriages.  On the other hand, they even found that there was “a significant percentage of those who separated after not merging bank accounts”.

Money is a particularly sensitive topic, something that is seldom discussed even amongst close friends.  It’s one of the primary sources of conflict in marriages, so there can be a temptation to want to keep some separation.  After all, shouldn’t that lead to fewer conflicts, not more?  On the contrary, the research lines up with biblical wisdom that sharing really is caring!

The Perils of Separate Accounts

Separate bank accounts seem to make sense to some.  We tend to see it more often among younger couples, who desire freedom to spend their incomes without needing permission, as well as among blended families and second marriages that occur later in life. The latter scenario is a bit understandable, as it can involve protecting the interests of children from previous relationships as well as a fear of going down the same path again.

However, separate finances can easily become a transactional mess of who pays which bill, who paid for something last time, and what’s “fair”. If ones spouse earns substantially more than the other, should things be split evenly, or by income levels?  Does the person who pays more get more say? Determining the amount to properly split can be exhausting, and lead to conflict and hurt feelings.

Maintaining separate accounts can also lead to temptations of financial secrecy, creating an environment prone to distrust and brokenness. This opens the door to being able to hide purchases or participate in self-indulgence.

The Power of Shared Finances

Conversely, combining finances is powerful, practical, and biblical.  When we combine our finances with our spouse, it sends a profound message of trust and unity, aligning with the meaning of marriage, two becoming one.  Our money is important, and what communicates trust more than giving someone access to all of your money as well as the records of how you spend it?

What the research shows (and experience can attest to) is that by pooling financial resources, couples develop a deeper connection that fosters mutual support and a shared sense of purpose. Rather than approaching finances as a transactional give-and-take, combining resources promotes a mindset of working together towards shared goals and aspirations.

On top of all of these reasons, you are now creating accountability and honesty with each other.  There’s no place to hide secret spending, and that fact alone can help us curb some spending that would otherwise be harmful.  And we’re forced to actually talk about some of our spending decisions, as every decision affects not just you, but your spouse.

As if this wasn’t enough reason, shared finances take out the need to do separate accountings, make sure things are “equal”, and just simplifies the entire situation

Lessons from the Early Church

The Bible takes shared finances a stop further.  Beyond just a husband and wife (which there would have been no thought to the contrary), the early church promoted all believers as sharing their finances.  Believers in the early Christian community willingly shared all their belongings and did not claim anything as their own.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” -Acts 4:32

This emphasis on communal ownership highlights the significance placed on trust and a spirit of oneness, even in the realm of finances.

We also have warnings of what can happen when we don’t do this. When Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land in Acts 4, they tried to deceive the apostles by holding some of their proceeds back for themselves.  What happened?  The Lord ended up striking them dead! Now I don’t think that’s going to happen should you choose to not combine your finances, but the message rings loud and clear that God values sharing, trust, and a spirit of oneness with our finances.

In This Together

Please know that in advocating for combined finance I’m not trying to promote communism or socialism. After all, forced sharing is never really sharing.  When we focus on equality and self-protection, it becomes challenging to truly demonstrate love through our financial decisions. Rather, the biblical teachings encourage us to love one another through our financial actions, prioritizing trust and a willingness to support each other.

Likewise, in our marriages, sharing our checkbooks is an act of love and trust.  It says, “I love you enough to trust you to with our money.  I love you more than our money.  I’d rather have your heart than all the money in the world!”

In line with biblical teachings, the concept of two becoming one is perfectly exemplified through shared finances. The notion of maintaining separate bank accounts after joining one another contradicts the whole point of this union. If spouses have become one flesh, it seems a bit odd to keep their financial matters separate.  So if you haven’t already, go ahead and combine those bank accounts!  We think you’ll be glad you did!