Mr. & Mrs. and the Joint Account
By: Deji Yesufu
So a tweet has been making the rounds on social media. It is one of those story tweets that are relayed in a chain. Someone has even gone further to harvest the tweets and put them all in one essay-stretch. Here is the meat of the story. Mr. Husband marry for church (apologies to Fela) and brings home a beautiful bride. Mr. feels that as the man of the house he is capable of handling the finances of his home by himself – one of those guys that boast “My wife’s money is hers; I don’t know what she earns.” Mrs. Wife works in one of these government parastatals. Probably getting wind of her husband’s largesse, she keeps her money; she never uses a kobo of it in the house; she always complains of the paltry sum she earns and she ensures that she passes a list of home needs to her husband weekly or as they arise. Some of these needs include even her sanitary wears – the husband alleges.
One day madam uses oga’s laptop and forgets to logout her email from it. Oga, out of plain curiosity, looks up a few emails and discovers that his wife is earning a fortune as a senior government worker. Besides that, she is building a house – which her father is overseeing and she had purchased a car for her elder brother who lost his job. The guy does Uber and they split the profit. Oga was perplexed. All these was happening while Mr. Husband had just scrapped resources together to replace wifey’s car. The long and short is that that marriage is on the rocks at the moment.
After a brother had shared the story online, another brother – a minister – replied saying that as a rule he makes it clear to soon to be married couples that if they cannot keep a joint account, he cannot join them. Sincerely I think this is the one solution that can sort out financial issues in the home. I am aware that the matter of joint account has been debated on many foras and I am very aware of the abuses that come with it. Yet, I am convinced that this is the one solution to all financial troubles in the home. Whatever other challenge might arise must be sorted out in the light of a husband and wife being completely united and transparent regarding their finances. If this does not happen, cracks will occur at the foundation of the marriage with the potential of destroying it completely. It is mind boggling that couples have no qualms with being completely naked with each other – physically, yet they find it incredibly difficult to be open concerning their finances. Couples will sleep on the same bed, spend most of the day with each other, bath together, have children between themselves and yet be completely in the dark regarding each other’s resources. Our foremost prayers as couples is that God will bless our homes. I am at a loss as to how God will bless a home where couples are hiding money from each other.
The plain question is this: how does a couple succeed at keeping a joint account? There is no one answer to the question. The answer is simply this: a couple should keep a joint account. They should surmount any challenge at achieving this. The foremost challenge here is the god of mammon that rules all of our hearts. If a couple are earning about the same thing, keeping a joint purse may not be difficult. They may see themselves as equal contributors to the family finances and thus equally committed to its success. However when one spouse earns a lot more than the other, a problem is likely to arise. I think it is even more pronounced when it is the lady that earns more. Yet the end goal of that family should be to possess the same purse. Husband and wife must be naked and unashamed regarding their finances. They must let go of the god of mammon ruling their hearts and allow God to rule their home and their money.
Another challenge with join accounts and what has impeded it greatly in this clime is the domineering man. There are cases where the man does little or nothing, and yet he wants to head his home and the joint finances they have between himself and his wife. While we discussed the rare situation of a woman abusing her husband’s finances by keeping hers secret, most often the case is always about the man abusing his wife and her finances. The solution is simply that women, hopefully Christian women, should marry Christian men – men who are born again and who have the fear of God in their hearts. Hopefully such men will be constrained by God’s Spirit to rule their home in the fear and wisdom of God.
You can now realize my utter shock and disgust when I saw an interview where a minister was sharing about how Christian women are being abused by their husbands in Christian and reformed homes. See this link for the interview. For those who are not familiar with reformed theology, it is an orthodox Christian faith committed to the Bible as rule for life and godliness. Reformed Communities often encourage women to stay at home and not work. Yet, some evil men take advantage of their wives’ submission and trample on these women. They abuse them physically and deny them their material needs. The man sharing the story made much effort to restrain himself from breaking down in tears. I also was awe stricken. So, you can imagine the horror of a man holding the family’s finances and then treating the wife like that. I honestly I’m at a loss as to how to respond to this matter than to say that our women should marry godly men and our men must live out the tenets of their faith at home. There is still no other way around family finances: the man and wife must keep one purse. The man must lead his home responsibly and the wife must serve her husband with humble submission. If a man abuses his authority in the home, the church must step in and discipline him, while at the same time protecting the wife and children. The more reason why a family must be committed to a church.
There are many occasions that encourages a husband and a wife keeping a joint account. One of them have come very close to home for me and I’ll relay it here. Many times we often think that life for us will be one of youth, health and vitality. It is not always so. When Christians marry, the minister leads them to make a vow of being together in sickness and in health. The days of health will pass and the days of sickness will come. I work in the hospital and I see this drama all the time. The man who has been the money bag all their days is the one that often come down with an illness – many times terminal. Children are often absent and relatives are usually no where to be found. It is that wife many have treated like trash that stands with her husband throughout. She is the one that bath him. She packs his poo when he defecates on himself. She cleans him up. She takes care of him. If they both have a joint account, she will have easy access to resources to take better care of him. If he dies, before vulture relatives arrive, she would have secured some money to take care of herself and her children. In the end it is a win-win for the man.
One minister I know once spoke of how he gives his wife liberty to own her own finances, while he owns his. He said he grew up watching his father handle the finances of their home. His mother was a teacher but his parent kept a joint account. Though they never had troubles between them, yet he felt his parent’s marriage lack a certain spark. They could not surprise each other with gift. For the sake of surprises, he counseled, couples should keep separate account. Thinking through this right now I felt this was not wise. Besides passing the wrong example to his flock, this minister forgets that there are many other ways to surprise one’s spouse. Family finances, which is their joint income, cannot be a means for surprises. Couples will always earn extra through raises and gifts. Such can be used for those surprises.
While this position may be disputed by many I still maintain that a true marriage is one where the couple have one single account where all their incomes enter into. Any other challenge that might arise from this should not be an occasion to separate accounts but for them to solve a more inherent problem in the hearts of the couple. Many times it is the god of mammon that inhibits this laudable idea. In such a case, couples can find grace in God through Christ to repent of their sins and do what is right and honoring to God. If Mr. & Mrs. desire God’s blessings on their finances, I hold the position that they should keep a joint account.
I believe couple should be able to practice whatever works for them. Knowing fully well two people coming from different background.
Keeping single account does not guarantee couple financial success and transparency especially if both have different spending habits and view about money.