Could Joint Banking Be The Key To A Happy Marriage?

Joint banking could lead to fewer arguments and increased relationship satisfaction.

A smiling couple looks over joint banking documents.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most common arguments among married couples is about finances, particularly budget and spending challenges. However, research from MarketWatch Guide shows that joint banking could lead to fewer arguments and increased relationship satisfaction. According to the study, 55% of couples who use solely joint bank accounts claim they never fight about money, compared to only 39% of partners who have personal accounts. And financial conflict between spouses, along with these common money mistakes couples make, can result in serious consequences, like foreclosure or divorce. For this reason, joint banking could benefit many couples. 

Couples' biggest financial arguments 

What specifically do couples often fight about regarding finances? MarketWatch found the top financial arguments among couples.  

  • Not adhering to a budget: 25.5%
  • Spending on things you cannot afford: 24.3%
  • Having differing savings goals: 15.1%
  • Unequal involvement in handling money: 11.4%
  • Dishonestly about what you're buying: 10.9%
  • Who makes more money: 6.7%

The top two reasons couples argue about finances: not sticking to a budget and spending money on things they can't afford. And financial infidelity is more common than you may think. According to Bankrate, about one-third of those in couples say they have committed some form of it, typically spending more than their partner would be okay with.

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Also a sore spot for couples is an unequal involvement in handling finances. MarketWatch found that 43% of men claim to be the financially-savvy spouse, while only 18% of women claim the same. Typically, its important that both parties have an equal say in decision making when it comes to finances, so making time to have regular financial check-ins with your spouse can be beneficial.

David Straughan, MarketWatch Guides financial writer tells Kiplinger: "Sharing a checking account with your partner can give visibility into where money is being spent, thus making it more difficult to deviate from a budget or make unwise financial decisions." Plus, it helps both partners take a more active role in the managing of household finances.

Joint banking could lead to a happier marriage

Overall, having open communication about finances is essential for any relationship, and having a joint banking account can help facilitate these types of conversations. And while perspectives on finances between you and your spouse can differ, it’s possible to get on the same financial page as a couple.

The 2024 MarketWatch Guides Joint Banking Survey found that 60.3% of couples who use only joint bank accounts were the most likely to claim they were "very satisfied" in their relationship, compared to 57% who use personal accounts only and 54.4% who use both joint and personal accounts.

"Most of the experts we talked to told us that one of the reasons couples that use a joint banking model tend to be happier is that it improves their communication around money issues and encourages honesty and transparency" says Straughan. "Some even suggested that these developments can often bleed over into other areas of the relationship, improving communication beyond just the financial realm."

Fidelity's 2021 Couples & Money Study found that couples who communicate well are more likely to expect to live comfortably in retirement, rate their household's financial health as excellent or good and say that money is not their greatest relationship challenge.

Of course, joint banking may not be the right fit for all marriages, and in certain cases it can be better to keep at least some of your finances separate. However, it's still important to discuss, and having a candid discussion regarding finances can help your relationship succeed.

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.