"I want to work after marriage, even after I have children," I told my Dad with a streak of rebellion, portraying that I will not be overpowered by his viewpoint on this. He calmly replied, "That's going to be a mutual decision between your husband and you."
"Mutual decisions of a married couple" got me thinking a lot about how much of a say does each partner have in a relationship or in a marriage? Can partners agree mutually on money matters, such as: whether the wife works after marriage or not; will they have a joint account or not; would they use their individual incomes for their own personal purposes only? What happens when a child comes into the picture? How are the finances managed then?
I discussed this with groups of men and women separately and got some interesting reactions.
Discussing money while dating
The group of men I spoke to, felt that there is a spectrum of comfort which varies with what stage in the relationship one is. They would be a lot more comfortable discussing money on later dates, or during courtship period, but definitely not in the first 5 dates.
But the women, in general, are not comfortable asking a man about his income, or how much he saves or invests in a month, or any goals which he is saving up for...etc.
The women do want to know if the man has any gambling tendencies, or if he has any debt at present, or is he prone to loaning money to his friends…? Women assume that a man's spending habits can reveal answers to these questions.
She would rather ask him out on a fancy date and observe his immediate reaction. This is assuming that natural reactions to a situation tell a great deal about a man than his word for it!
If the man shies away from an expensive date (wherein, it is assumed that he will have to pay for it), then, this reaction is certainly a deal breaker. Whereas, if he is very comfortable with the idea of expensive dates, it will reveal his spending habits, his disposable income, his attitude towards impressing the girl, etc.
The men, on the other hand, seem to have no qualms about disclosing these figures. They say they will be happy to share how much they make, how much they save or spend and what plans they have with their money in the future...
Talking about long term goals - buying a home, paying EMI…
The women who spoke to me think that discussing children and their expenses is a matter of passing the bridge when you come to it. But men are pretty certain, that they would like for the woman to contribute if she can comfortably do so.
The same women seem to have slightly traditional views when it comes to buying a home. Even if registered in the couple's name jointly, they do not wish to pay for the EMIs or down payment for the house. They believe it should be their husband's duty as the head of the family. The men again, feel that if the woman contributes, it would definitely ease the burden, but they would leave it to her discretion.
Few of the men, do feel that everything should be shared between a couple. They also feel most comfortable borrowing from their better half and would not shy away from it. But this is only a small fraction of people.
Both men and women felt that they do not need a joint account. Even if they decide to have one, it would only be for common expenses, such as rent of the apartment they live in, food, travel etc.
The women believe that at no point should they be asked to place their entire salary into a joint account. They are happy to contribute for common expenses, but the rest of their salary must be used entirely as per their wish. Under no circumstances should they be questioned where they are spending their "own" money.
What do you feel about these views expressed by men and women, do you agree or disagree with them? Drop your two cents on the matter in the comments below. We would love to know how you feel about this important question.