"Financial arrangements certainly tell you a lot about a marriage, don't they?" comments Sandy in response to a question. In my informants' marriages, the financial arrangements reflect the partners' autonomy as well as their interdependence. They vary from couple to couple.
When they married, Catherine and George sat down and added up their expenses and divided everything down the middle. They pay their assigned bills monthly. Now and then they recheck to make certain that the amounts are approximately equal. They find this the least complicated method because George has additional expenses related to his ex-wife and the children from his first marriage. The couple's assets are also separate. The co-op was Catherine's before they married and still is. George had bought a country house just before they married, and that is his. He also pays the considerable restoration expenses on the house. They have separate credit cards, and they file separate income tax returns.
Robert and Anna put their paychecks into their joint checking account. She earns more than Robert. She says that this has never been an issue with them--"we spend all the money anyway as fast as it comes in." They do have separate savings accounts. She balances the checking account "because I am the financial person in the family; be-