Is it OK For a Wife to Not Contribute Financially? (If She Works)


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When you are in a committed relationship, you expect things to be fair and shared somewhat equally. And these days, typically both the husband and the wife work outside the home. But is it OK for a wife to not contribute financially if she works?

A married couple should combine their income and expenses and pay all bills from the combined total of both incomes. While it’s totally OK if 1 spouse earns more than another, it’s not OK for 1 spouse to not contribute financially if they have a job and earn an income.

So again, if the man makes more than the woman or vice versa, that’s totally fine.

This isn’t about nickel and diming each other down to the penny. So just deposit both paychecks into a joint checking account.

Then pay all the bills (his, hers, and ours) from that same account and have a monthly budget that includes personal spending that you both agree to. But how do you do that, and how do you get a reluctant spouse on board if they don’t agree with that?

Let’s answer those questions now.

You CAN change how you and your spouse communicate about money before it completely derails your marriage.

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the feeling of being not seen as an equal and not feeling respected. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and to feel like you are both on the same team.

Ultimately, this isn’t a money problem; it’s a marriage problem.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t willing to talk about or work on the problem.

The website Marriage Helper has been helping tens of thousands of marriages for more than 2 decades. Their in-person 3-day event is legendary and has an unbelievable 77% success rate at saving marriages on the brink of divorce.

But you don’t have to pay for that workshop- especially if your husband isn’t even likely to be willing to attend.

CLICK HERE to get their FREE mini-course on how to get your spouse back if they are drifting away! It’s totally free and WILL make a difference as you hear, understand, and implement these crucial strategies to get your marriage back on track and rebuild the trust, love, and commitment!

You literally have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.

How much should each spouse contribute to the household expenses?

In a marriage, the money earned by both spouses should be combined into a joint checking account, and then all bills and expenses should be paid from that account. It doesn’t really matter how much each spouse makes; it’s about sharing and combining their lives.

That’s it.

There is no magic formula as to how much each spouse should contribute. You are in this together. That means that all of your money is spent together, purchases are made together, bills and debt are paid off together.

In a marriage, there is no “my money” or “your money.” It is all our money.

This is especially true if income levels are very different. It’s not reasonable to expect a 50/50 split when it comes to paying bills in this situation.

If your wife makes significantly less than you, maybe she just feels her income isn’t enough to impact the household.

If this is the case, have a heart-to-heart with her. Start by discussing current bills and total household income. Weekly or monthly budgeting is the best way to get an accurate picture of what a couple actually makes and spends.

But what if your spouse isn’t on board with that?

If you’re concerned about how to talk to your wife about budgeting, or if she (or he) just flat out won’t stick to a budget, just read this recent article. Ultimately, at that point, you have a marriage problem, not a money problem. But there is a solution.

Just click on the link to read it on my site.

How do you deal with a partner who barely contributes financially?

If a spouse or partner is not contributing much financially but does have a good income, that’s a sign of not being fully committed or being irresponsible with money. But it also could be that they see you as too controlling, and they are afraid to combine their finances with yours.

So, once you figure out the underlying reason, it becomes easier to troubleshoot the issue.

The most important thing you can do is to communicate with one another. This is often easier said than done. Most couples are too preoccupied with work, raising children, and running a household to have time to chat with one another.

You may even have to go out of your way to plan for a financial chat. Treat it as though it were a crucial work-related appointment.

Discuss everything that’s on your mind, including your family’s budget, retirement portfolio, vacation spending, allowances for the kids, and college money.

Make an effort to conduct this chat in a relaxed setting so that nobody feels defensive or attacked.

Marriage is a financial partnership. It relies on compromise and mutual cooperation, just like any other successful partnership.

But if your wife isn’t contributing to the household because she is financially irresponsible, that is a different story. It should be addressed swiftly but with respect. Don’t talk down to your wife, but focus on her actions.

But what if she really is irresponsible with money?

To read more about how to deal with a financially irresponsible wife, read this recent article. Ultimately, financial irresponsibility is a symptom of a larger problem, and it should be addressed with compassion and understanding.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Should you leave if your spouse won’t contribute financially?

Do not leave an otherwise good marriage because a spouse will not contribute financially. Spouses contribute to marriage in many ways, not just financially. But if they refuse to combine income or help with household expenses, that is a problem that should be resolved as it can lead to divorce.

And as I said above, ultimately, that’s a marriage problem, not a money problem.

Ideally, this would be discussed before you even get married. If one of you makes enough to support the household, then the other one may not need to work.

If that’s the case, you can expect that one spouse won’t be contributing financially.

Non-working spouses contribute so much more to a marriage than finances. Typically, they keep the house, do the majority of the cooking and cleaning, run the kids back and forth to appointments, and so much more.

So, if the only reason you want to leave your spouse is due to finances, I would argue that that isn’t a reason at all. Instead, there is something deeper going on that needs to be addressed.

What happens if you are in a time of financial need? Does she get a part-time job, find ways to cut expenses, or reduce her spending?

If so, then she contributes financially.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

Should a wife be financially independent?

A wife should not be totally financially independent as marriage represents a union where income and expenses are combined for the greater good of the household. But unless a wife is a stay-at-home mom raising kids who are not yet in elementary school, they should be working and contributing financially.

After all, a marriage is a union where both people combine their lives, including their financial life.

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question though. Each marriage is different. For some wives, they want nothing more than to stay home with the kids. They are fulfilled keeping up the home and making sure there is a hot meal on the table when their husband arrives home.

Other wives are fulfilled by working outside of the home. There is no right or wrong way to be a wife.

I have a friend whose brother-in-law describes his wife as a “leisure wife”. In his case, the wife doesn’t work, and while they do have 1 young child, they have 2 nannies and a housekeeper that takes care of most things.

That wouldn’t really work for me, but it seems to be working for them.

But no one likes to be completely dependent on other people. It can make you feel like you are being controlled. It can also make you feel like you have to ask every time you want to spend money on yourself.

But this doesn’t mean that you should keep bank accounts separate. In fact, there is good data to indicate that married couples should share bank accounts.

Marriage is a partnership, after all. You should both be open and transparent about your income and your spending habits.

But what are the statistics behind whether couples should share bank accounts?

To read more about why couples should share bank accounts, just read this recent article. When you share bank accounts, everything you earn goes into one account, and then all bills come back out of that account. But the divorce rates of couples who don’t do that are insane!

It just makes everything easier. It also shows that you are being completely transparent with your spending.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is financial irresponsibility grounds for divorce?

Financial irresponsibility can be grounds for divorce, especially in any of the 17 states that are no-fault, meaning either spouse can file for divorce for any reason. Money-related issues, including financial irresponsibility, are the number one thing couples argue about and get divorced over.

So, what are those 17 states where anyone can file for divorce for any reason?

  • California 
  • Colorado 
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Iowa 
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

But even if you’re in a different state with different laws, financial irresponsibility, especially if you can prove it, can definitely be a cause for divorce.

Money and stress often go hand-in-hand. Overextended budgets, unexpected financial emergencies, and general dishonesty about money can cause a lot of stress in a relationship.

Instead of going straight for divorce, though, take a look at why your spouse may be irresponsible with money.

Typically, financial irresponsibility is a sign of a bigger problem. Communication is the key to avoiding any reason to get divorced.

Talk with your wife about her spending habits. Maybe she got herself into a hole and is too embarrassed to talk to you about it. We all do dumb things to try to protect ourselves.

Talk to her from a place of compassion and understanding rather than judgment. If she put you in a tough financial spot, work together to find a way out.

You might be surprised to know that while money problems are high on the list of reasons for divorce, they are not always in the number 1 spot.

Rather, disagreements about money are the number 1 predictor of divorce.

In this recent article, I talked in detail about the top reasons for divorce. Money is up there, but the other top ones might surprise you.

Just click the link to read it on my other site.

How To Combine Finances After Marriage?

Final Thoughts

Marriages are partnerships, and money should be shared freely among partners.

You and your wife should be pooling your money to spend as necessary, not keeping it from one another. Be completely upfront and honest, and talk to your wife about how her lack of contribution is hurting you and the household.

You CAN change how you and your spouse communicate about money before it completely derails your marriage.

I’ve been in your shoes. You want to move beyond the feeling of being not seen as an equal and not feeling respected. And you desperately want your marriage to have trust, mutual acceptance, and to feel like you are both on the same team.

Ultimately, this isn’t a money problem; it’s a marriage problem.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse isn’t willing to talk about or work on the problem.

The website Marriage Helper has been helping tens of thousands of marriages for more than 2 decades. Their in-person 3-day event is legendary and has an unbelievable 77% success rate at saving marriages on the brink of divorce.

But you don’t have to pay for that workshop- especially if your husband isn’t even likely to be willing to attend.

CLICK HERE to get their FREE mini-course on how to get your spouse back if they are drifting away! It’s totally free and WILL make a difference as you hear, understand, and implement these crucial strategies to get your marriage back on track and rebuild the trust, love, and commitment!

You literally have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.


Photos that require attribution:

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay and Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

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