Like most Americans these days my husband and I are watching our spending. We are working hard to chip away at debt and keep credit card charges at a minimum.
We have triumphantly had cash Christmases (nothing charged) for the last few years and it hasn't been an easy task. It helps that we are both very mindful of what we spend and that our "splurges" are on low cost hobbies/interests.
Over the years I have had an ear full from friends (of both sexes) venting over spouses/significant others over spending or lack of involvement in their finances.
A close friend managed to convince her husband in to taking some type of couple's money management class. A great idea, but at the end there was little change. He took the class like some take electives classes in high school; "for the credit", but absorbing nothing! My friend ended up continuing to manage all their finances. Wait, correction to that last statement. She continues to manage HER finances, he (now her ex-husband) has been forced to manage his finances with the help of the courts!
When I was very young (early 20's) my boss was a smart, independent and generous with her advice woman. She put herself thru school on the G.I. bill, managed her finances enough to be able to invest on rental properties and at a young age of 30 was financially secure. A great role model.
Not long after I met her she married (another accountant) and her husband took charge of their finances putting her on a strict allowance. I found that very difficult to hear, even more when he would review what she spent her allowance on.
I understood how one partner can have stronger financial management skills than the other but she was constantly stressed over it, especially when his criticizing over the spending of her allowance totally deflated her. It was like being scolded by a parent.
I made a mental note that when and if I married I would make sure finances were something that was SHARED and any "spending money" allotted would be guilt free and not open to discussion!!
Since my husband and I married later in life we both came with debt. I could have easily volunteered to take care of it all since accounting is what I do for a living, but honestly I found it more comfortable to share.
After we got engaged we opened a joint checking and savings account. We both fund our "house" account and pay from it all of our living expenses which many are set up to auto pay. No real work there. We also both fund our savings account. Each is in charge of paying their own debt; credit cards, student loans, cars etc! There is no "honey you forgot to pay"... I feel that it keeps each "hands on". When it comes to "managing" our money, we discuss strategy; where we can cut costs, which debts we should try to pay off first based on balance and interest rates, and such.
We have been pretty happy keeping things "separate". There are NO joint credit cards! We both had some bad experiences on past relationships. One walked away from a relationship with all the debt (a small price to pay for freedom). The other suffered with a partner who constantly spent more than they earned.
So far it's been working for us. We haven't made any large purchases like a home, but we are working together towards freeing up our credit and other short term goals.