|Money is not trivial. How a person relates to money reflects their primary nature. Falling in love with someone whose values are not your own is a fact of life. If these are "chocolate vs. vanilla" choices, then the disagreement is not derived from a fundamental difference. |
I always believed in separting the expenses that were not inherently shared. After about ten years of marriage, we finally agreed. In the mean time, we worked out several modes of balancing the money. Some worked better than others. This works best.
There is a philosophical principle that applies: independence. Glossing it over with questions of "trust" does not address that. In The Basic Princples of Objectivism course, this came up in another context. When Nathaniel Branden asked, rhetorically, "Don't you trust me?" The answer that he was illuminating was the more basic question: If the trust were there, the blank check would not be required. Why would that sanction be needed?
I agree that above that level, yes, when two people do have an implicit relationship, questions of who picks up the check and who leaves the tip are details that should not lead to other issues. When they do, then those other topics must be worked out explicitly. In order for that to occur successfully, you must share the same basic values.
Clearly, marriage -- or any kind of emotional partnership -- is deeper than tallying who put the quarter in the parking meter last time. If each person is individually committed to the principle of independence, then such issues seldom come up -- and when they do, they are quickly resolved. However, if one partner feels that the other is either taking more or giving less, then there is a basic disconnect. If it comes up in trivial matters, it will be multipled and magnified when the problem involves getting a mortgage.
Giving gifts is in the same class of problems. The worst case is O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi": he sells his watch to buy her a comb; she sells her hair to buy him a fob. Self-sacrifice is a bad -- in the words of Sam Spade: "bad for business, bad for everybody, bad all the way around." If you can afford the gift and you expect that it will be appreciated, then nothing more needs to be said.
It can be said that by the nature of reality, financial independence must work better than financial inter-dependence. If collectivism is a failure mode for nations, it must also works less well for married couples than would the application of individualism.