When we got married almost 11 years ago (you can insert your own gag about which various crimes you get less time for, personally I’m happily married and have always been so), we exchanged vows, rings and such things but we also tidied up our banking and got a joint account. I know a lot of married couples that don’t have joint accounts, some that have one but only so they can both pay a portion of their salary in to in order to pay the bills and general running costs and a tiny handful of our friends that actually have a joint account and use it in the way we do.
I don’t know if this is cultural, an age thing or something entirely different but I see that we’re married and as such we’re a team, what’s mine is wifey’s, what’s hers is mine. We both contribute different things to our marriage and family but we work together and it seems a natural extension to this to do the same financially via a joint account where we can both see exactly where we stand with money at any given time.
From a more personal point of view, I also find it acts as an excellent check on some of my more ostentatious spending habits- before we got the joint account I’d happily spend obscene amounts of money on video games, half of which I wouldn’t even play, but now I think a lot more about what I buy for myself. That sense of putting others (particularly the kids) before yourself is part of growing up and I think if you don’t, it can lead to resentment. I was talking to a friend the other day who has been married for about twice as long as I have but doesn’t have a joint account and has genuinely no idea what his wife spends her money on and is getting the hump at constantly having to “sub” her. Whilst I can see his point of view, I can’t help but think they’re looking at it the wrong way. They’re a married couple, not two acquaintances living together but they’re running their finances like house mates, not married people.
Sometimes it makes sense to switch accounts when you decide to get a joint account for the first time- a fresh start for a fresh (banking) relationship. We both had current accounts with two different banks when we got married and then switched to a third bank for our joint account. It felt like a statement of intent as much as anything.