My Fiance Refuses to Share His Financial Information With Me. Should I Call Off Our Wedding?

I started dating Shawn three years ago. Following a lot of your advice for the last five years, I was very clear of what I wanted in this relationship, and of what I didn’t want. After about six months of dating I moved in with him, but before I made it very clear that my moving in was a first step to a further commitment on his part; I made sure he understood I wanted marriage after some time living together, and he agreed. A year and a half later he finally proposed, and we picked our wedding date to happen a year later. Now we are only one month away from our wedding, invitations sent and all arrangements already finalized, and we are very excited. But now I am concerned about something we never talked about before: money.

We keep our finances separate, and that is fine for me, but he does not want to share with me any information regarding his income or how much he is bringing to our marriage. I know he has some investments, and some money he has received from his wealthy mom, but I have no idea how much. He says he is not comfortable about sharing that information because he has never done it before (he has been single forever). Although I told him my intention is not to get any of his money or even access to his accounts, I just want for us to share all our information, he still insists he doesn’t feel comfortable about it. I have told him that I will not enter marriage if there are secrets between the two of us, with no change in his response. I have also argued that monogamy and the sharing of assets are the only two aspects that we can promise in an objective way, and how I do not need the money but the sharing of information, but still same answer.

What is your opinion? Should I just not worry about this and let him do it whenever he feels comfortable (if he ever does)? On the other hand, the fact that he so adamantly refuses to disclose that information makes me feel very uncomfortable; I know he is in a well-to-do financial situation, but at the same time I think that there are some legal implications about marriage that could affect us in the future. What if something happens to him? I wouldn’t even know what to do from a financial point of view, since I do not know what he has or where. So far the best I have from him is he will think about it, but that usually means he will persist in his position until I drop it. I have threatened to call off the wedding unless there is complete transparency between the two of us. Is this too much?

I would really appreciate your advice on this. Your opinions have always been extremely useful for me, both before this relationship and also after my engagement. Many of your advice has helped me understand Shawn better, and I hope this time you will help me deal with this. Just the thought of not marrying him is making me sooo sad…

In gratitude,
Esther

Dear Esther,

Two true relevant stories about money.

  1. Thirtysomething Jason got engaged to Vanessa after two years together. After the engagement, they discussed money for the first time. Turns out that Jason wanted Vanessa to continue to contribute to the household after they had kids, but Vanessa had her heart set on being a stay-at-home mom. They couldn’t come to terms and broke up.
  2. Sixtysomething Eleanor married William after a short, intense courtship. He lavished her in gifts, bought her a nicer car, and proposed to her on a trip to Europe. Eleanor assumed he was financially secure for their retirement. Turns out William had less than $50,000 in the bank and Eleanor had to support him. The marriage lasted for less than two years.

I’m sure there are some other anecdotes that I don’t know about where the wife has no idea what the husband makes and everything works out just fine. I just don’t know any.

I’m not going to get into the rule of law and the nuances of the NSA, but I would only say this to anyone who is private: if you have nothing to hide, what difference does it make?

Listen, you’ve already thought this through and you’ve come to largely the same conclusion that I would.

You acknowledged that you should have talked about money earlier.

You’ve stated that he doesn’t want to share any financial information with you whatsoever.

You’ve told him that you will not enter marriage with any secrets between you.

You’ve threatened to call off the wedding unless there is complete transparency.

Yep, that’s about right. The question is whether you have the guts to break things off. From the outside, I’d say you should, but that’s because I’m an objective third party and I haven’t sunk two years and a ton of time, energy, money and emotion into your relationship.

I’ll acknowledge one thing up front: I don’t understand secretive people. I don’t understand people who worry about cameras on the street, or even the government reading my emails. I’m not going to get into the rule of law and the nuances of the NSA, but I would only say this to anyone who is private: if you have nothing to hide, what difference does it make?

Transparency is the foundation of a relationship – the ability to be 100% yourself and be accepted for your flaws.

I’m sure you’ve already brought this up to Sean. The fact that he is not being transparent about this does not portend a healthy future for you at all. Transparency is the foundation of a relationship – the ability to be 100% yourself and be accepted for your flaws. I guess one could spin this by saying that you should “accept” him for his secrecy, but that’s like accepting him when he stays out all night and doesn’t tell you where he’s been.

So, from the outside, I would support you walking away from this relationship. You may have a quality man whom you love, but it’s his responsibility to make you feel safe. And you can’t feel safe in a relationship where he’s keeping these kinds of important secrets. To clarify – I don’t think you have to blurt out everything you’ve ever done to your partner – if he was in prison for drug dealing in college and he wanted to keep it a secret, he could. If you had an abortion as a teenager and you didn’t want him to know, that’s your right. The past is the past. But this is the present. His money situation affects every aspect of a marriage and you have the right to know everything. Don’t let him bully you into thinking otherwise. That’s not an understanding husband.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Malcolm

    “I would only say this to anyone who is private: if you have nothing to hide, what difference does it make?”
    Sorry, Evan . . . but this is definitely inconsistent with your previous blog statement that you didn’t want people here asking details about your relationship with your wife.   

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Not remotely, Malcolm. First of all, I AM transparent on this blog about my relationship with my wife. Gets me in trouble all the time from readers, who tar and feather me for admitting that I’ve dated more “impressive” people, etc. I am always using personal anecdotes to let others know that having critical thoughts about your partner are normal and that you don’t always “just know” when a relationship is right. The only time I ever push back on providing details is when readers criticize or badger me over my marriage. My wife and I are happy. I don’t need to defend our happiness or our choices. And when people attack, that’s when I shut it down. But it’s not because I’m afraid of transparency. It’s because there’s no point in wasting my breath trying to convince a stranger of something he has no right to know. This is 100% different than transparency between a couple, so thanks for inadvertently helping me make my point.

      1. 1.1.1
        Malcolm

        Evan: Well sure, you make a reasonable distinction and you live up to it very well (which we all appreciate).
        But (LOL) . . .  in that context, then, you didn’t allow for any such distinctions when criticizing OTHER people’s standards of privacy.  There are a LOT of legitimate reasons to want privacy even if they INCLUDE wanting to hide something.  For example:  if I do “illegal” drugs I have good reasons for “hiding” that and being “private” about it . . .

        1. Dora

          Auuuu, you  malcolm..in the middle- Don’t you people have anything else to do than to NAG on points that have Nothing to do with the main topic…?
          Couple – can Not have secrets in the present and in future,secrets that affect that present and future. My mom used to say – in ONE Family – there is NO MINE OR YOURS. THERE IS ONLY OURS. I believe this is all to it.
          And Evan was making this point exactly. Where did you take the conversation to?? And why , I wonder. May be you are one of those who have something to hide as well and think’s is his full right to do so even in a intimate committed relationship…ha…!!
           

        2. Maggie

          Malcolm…  I would say that is you are doing illegal drugs, that would be something that you should disclose to your partner as well.  That example doesn’t support anything you’ve said; quite the contrary. You are strengthening the argument made by Evan. Bottom line here is she is uncomfortable with his secrets surrounding his money. He is definitely entitled to his secrecy, but if they cannot come together and find common ground, they have no business getting married. That’s the point I took away from Evan’s advice.

      2. 1.1.2
        sarahrahrah!

        Well said, Evan.

  2. 2
    starthrower68

    I am not sure how two people can have a good marriage if they cannont communicate on financial matters.  That’s an area where there both people need to be on the same page before the dress is bought and the wedding invitations go out.  How people handle money is often an indication of their character.  Even if you are both of solid character, if one of you is more saver and one of you is more spender, you at least need to know that about each other so you can find a workable solution/compromise.

    1. 2.1
      RustyLH

      Personally I think Sean is being smart. For one, they both have their own money. So long as he is paying his share of the bills, what difference does it matter? She says she doesn’t want his money, but she wants to know everything about it? Sounds fishy to me. I think what he wants is to have completely separate finances to set a precedent for the possibility of divorce. He is trying to have that precedent to show the court that it was not a financial contract. With divorce laws the way they are, who can blame him?

      Any man thinking of getting married, and any woman with substantial assets is foolish to do so without a pre-nup. And, have a full legal accounting of anything of value that you are bringing to the table, so it isn’t considered an asset of the marriage.

      1. 2.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Smart? He’s losing his fiance. Not sure how that’s a good idea.

        1. RustyLH

          Well, I don’t know all of the intimate details of this relationship, nor their finances. I don’t even know how old both people are. So this makes a big difference in my opinion. If the man has done fairly well for himself, and he has money put away, he may want to leave the marriage intact if it were to end in divorce. This man, though never married, may have seen friends taken to the cleaners, forced to live with parents, couch surf, etc… I personally believe that he has every right to fear what women can do to him in a divorce. Having a fiancee…being married…all good so long as you are actually in that situation, but when it ends, it normally ends very badly, and for men…and now increasingly women…it can end very badly if you are the one with the higher income/assets. For a man past his working years, the thought of what can happen to him can be terrifying.

          I think her best move forward would have been to offer to sign prenups, Marriage is a contract but unlike other contracts, none of the details are spelled out beforehand. This makes me view a prenup much differently than I did when I was young.

          I would have given her very different advice. They have been together for 3 years. What has she learned in those 3 years? Does he live in a very modest apartment? Does he live in a home? Is he the owner of that home? Does she know his social security number, or driver’s license number? Maybe doing some homework is in order. Vet the man on her own without his knowledge. It is a matter of public record who owns his home, and what the value of it is, and whether there is still a lien on it. She can also do a financial check on him to see if he is in debt, or has he recently, or ever filed for bankruptcy.

          If everything looks clean, she states that she doesn’t want his money. Have prenups drawn up, one to protect him and one to protect her. Both could include wording that states that both acknowledge that they are financially healthy…let the lawyers figure out how to properly word it. But then have it worded that if it turns out that the other person hid serious financial problems, the marriage may be considered null and void…thus allowing for an annulment.

          If keeping his finances makes him feel safe, leave him to it. She does not need him to disclose his finances to protect herself…if she does not need his money in the event of a divorce. She may be giving up an otherwise great man who simply fears being taken to the cleaners.

          If this were a very young couple who likely have very limited assets, I would give very different advice.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Words, words, words. If she’s marrying him, she has the right to know the truth. If he doesn’t want her to know, he’s gonna lose his fiance.

      2. 2.1.2
        Maggie

        Rusty,

         

        If the fiancé is so jaded that he wants to behave as if divorce is his end game before he even gets married, that is a reflection of his [faulty] character. When people get married, the divorce rate and other people’s miserable endings shouldn’t have any influence. You should get married with the intention that you will be together for the rest of your life, and any money he set aside should be a consideration for their future together, not his after the assumptive divorce he has created in his own mind to justify the secrets, if that is really the reason he doesn’t want to tell her. He may very well feel like she is interested in taking his money, but if he feels that way, why does he want to marry her? If he is not at a point where he wants to merge their lives, then marriage isn’t the next step for them. He needs to put on his big boy pants and either commit or have the candid conversation that could end their relationship. Furthermore, if he cares more about his money than his relationship, that brings his motives into question as far as I’m concerned. I can understand why she wants to know. It sounds like she views it as a demonstration of trust and commitment. She didn’t ask about his finances through their relationship, and it only became an issue for her when she is getting ready to pledge herself to this man for the rest of her life. She has a right to be well-informed about everything she is signing on for. And that includes his financial situation, for better or worse.  Bottom line in any relationship — when you decide to combine your lives, you have to be ready to do so completely. You can’t half step a commitment like marriage.

        1. Russell

          “If the fiancé is so jaded that he wants to behave as if divorce is his end game before he even gets married, that is a reflection of his [faulty] character.”

           

          I disagree.  Do you have car insurance?  Would you have it if it wasn’t required?  If you have it, does it mean you are planning to have a car accident?

           

          I do not see this as an issue because of the information the lady provided.  She has dated him for 3 years, lived with him for 2 1/2 years, and been engaged for a year.  They have kept their finances separate since that time.  Obviously, after 3 years, it should be evident that the man doesn’t have serious problems with money.  He has been supporting himself all that time, and he hasn’t been milking her because if he had, she would have included that.  3 years is enough time to understand that he isn’t going to be dependent on her.

           

          As a precaution, she can have a prenuptial agreement drawn up that keeps their finances and debt obligations separate.  I have a feeling he would be more than agreeable to that.  I have a feeling that his issue is not one of financial problems, but of having a fair amount of money, and he simply doesn’t want her to know how much he has.  I think he simply wants to keep their finances completely separate, and does not want her knowing how much he has.  Why?  It’s not rocket science.  He like most men have a history of finding women being way too interested in money.  The truth is, many men these days don’t even believe in love.  They grew up believing in it, and hoped to find a woman who loved him completely and unconditionally, but life teaches you that it doesn’t exist, or that if it does, it is rare.

           

          If you and your husband were well off, but he got injured and could no longer work, and you both ended up homeless, but an old boyfriend offered to rescue you from the situation if you would get a divorce and then move in with him, what would you do?  Maybe you would stay with your husband, but the reality is that most women would not.  But then, I don’t think most men would either if the situation is reversed.  True love that we grew up believing in doesn’t exist.

           

          Did you know that one of Def Leppard’s guitarists committed suicide with a drug overdose.  His band mates explained why.  He couldn’t find true unconditional love.  He found women who only wanted him because of his fame and fortune.  He died of loneliness.

           

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/close-encounters/201408/whos-really-more-romantic-men-or-women

           

          It’s easy to say that only men who are not successful don’t like that women care more about money, but the truth is, a lot of very successful men don’t like it either.

           

          That article backs up what is stated in this blog by the OP and Evan’s response.  Note that the man did not ask about the woman’s finances.  He doesn’t care.  He cares about her, not her money.  The woman on the other hand, cares about his money.  Why?  She can get a prenup if she is afraid of skeletons coming out of his closet.  So why worry?  He has been supporting himself as long as she has known him, and in fact she noted that SHE moved in with him.  The wording makes me assume she moved into his place, though I suppose they may have gotten a new place together, but I don’t think so.  The wording indicates she moved into his place.

           

          When I was very young, and not nearly as many women were financially independent, women would say that prenups were not romantic.  Women used to insist that Alimony was right and fair, even if the woman made enough money to support herself, but the man made a whole lot more.  Now?  Now prenups are fine, when the woman is wanting to protect her finances.  Alimony?  Icky!  If she is the bread winner, no way does she want to have to pay the man alimony in the event of a divorce.

           

          This comedian exaggerates some the divorce stat to make his joke funnier, but his stuff is funny because it’s true, other than the divorce stat, which he states as 75%.

           

        2. Russell

          Forgot to include the video of the comedian.  Here it is.

           

        3. Russell

          Oh, and one last point about the finances that I forgot to include.  If he wanted to combine their finances, then yes, at that point, he is obligated to full disclosure.  If he wants to keep their finances separate, and is willing to sign a prenup that protects both of them in the event of skeletons coming out of the closet at a later time, then no, he is not obligated to full disclosure.  Not sure what is so hard to understand about that.

      3. 2.1.3
        May

        How can you say someone like that is smart? He is hiding finances from his wife whay if something every happened to her and he had to work and pay the bills on his own? Of course they have to talk about finances and how much each has so thay they can build a strong foundation and know what they can provide to grow. If he is having second thoughts that she might be with him just for the money then maybe they both have trust issues and should not be together.

  3. 3
    Jenna

    I’m curious, then: When is an acceptable time to bring up finances in dating? It seems very silly to waste years in a relationship only to find out the guy has very different financial values or is deep in debt or has nothing for retirement, etc. Is six months okay? I don’t want to sound like I’m gold-digging to a guy, but I’d want to feel we were on the same page financially before moving in and investing so much time and emotion. I’ve made embarrassing financial choices in my past that I wouldn’t want to share, but currently, I am debt-free and have savings, a trust fund and a 401k, but a mediocre credit score … that is what it is, but a serious partner has a right to know about it.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I would say that you get into details when you’re talking about getting serious. With my wife and I, it was 9 months before I learned she was $40K in credit card debt… You may say she should have told me sooner, but I might not have stuck around if I learned this in Month 1 or 2. But one should certainly not get engaged (or move in) before having a clear picture of what your respective finances look like.

    2. 3.2
      Noquay

      Jenna
      If you are seeking marriage or a LTR, you will be with this person a number of months before committing to something serious. In that time, usually paying attention, keeping your eyes open will reveal a lot
      without having to ask. The persons home for instance; many will dress well, wine and dine you, yet you find the living situation is not in keeping with their apparent lifestyle. Having credit cards refused, obvious avoidance of bills/calls from bill collectors,
      wanting to do everything on the cheap. Is his/her car kept up and maintained? Does he/she freak when encountering unanticipated minor medical/repair needs or do they shell out and deal with the problem.
      Retirement funds etc, are a little harder to suss out but maybe mentioning your own retirement fund or other asset-related subject gets the ball rolling. The really bad actors, finance wise, usually become obviously within a few weeks of dating.

  4. 4
    starthrower68

    I should prolly add – in the event I am called a gold-digger, that I am working on the debt snowball and I’m not afraid to shop at Goodwill.  I respect men who want to provide for a woman, but I never expect one to do so and would not find that a good reason to couple up with someone.  A ditch digger who takes pride in his work, does his job with the right heart, and is a good steward of his resources is more of a catch than say, a successful businessman who doesn’t value people, and doesn’t use wisdom managing his resources.

    1. 4.1
      Renee

      I agree. And to add on previous comments, the man who says women dig gold, the partner to that is the man who purchases sex, but in this case from his wife. If the rock star did not find true love he did not know how to look or was in the crazy milieu, it’s hard to do. Marriage can be a business arrangement but commitment to care for each other is also an arrangement.

      My ex married me intending to 1 get a green card 2 use my income and credit 3 sue me for all he could. He was a con. He turned insults toward me to defend himself. He did terrible things some of which I won’t mention but he preferred men if that says enough. Fast forward, current boyfriend won’t discuss his money. He makes plenty but never has any. I make 1/3 of what he does and he wants me to pay his mortgage and groceries so he can pay off debt and save for retirement. I don’t live off him and I’m self supportive within my means. He wants me to buy better clothes but my budget is Goodwill and I’m OK with that, i have to be. He likes hot rods and sinks money in to them, I like travel but do not go, we both like to eat well. I am in retraining for career, so living off savings. He wants a nurse maid, but I will not benefit from his estate. We don’t align our goals. See where this is headed?

  5. 5
    Karmic Equation

    Offer to sign a prenup to set his mind at ease. Make sure your lawyer/financial advisor drafts one for HIM to sign as well.
    If he’s worried you’re gold-digging, the offer should settle his mind. If he’s in debt, then YOUR prenup will protect you.
    As well, if you both contribute to a joint account, I think both your incomes should be what’s disclosed and both of you should contribute the same proportion of your income into the joint account, e.g., both pay in 50%.
    Who’s paying for the wedding, btw?
    Also a discussion should be had to have you both add the other as the main beneficiary to assets after marriage. You don’t necessarily need to disclose the amounts to each other, but both should know what accounts the other has, in general. I’m not quite sure how you ensure this happens though as I don’t think beneficiaries need to sign any forms, but I guess you can ask him to give you copies of the forms he completes and you do the same.
    Yeah, the financial stuff should have been discussed before the wedding date was set. That would have saved both of you the hassle if ultimately his love of privacy outweighs his love for you.

    1. 5.1
      Nicole

      Actually, people are forgetting that married people have to file taxes together (so you usually take a hit the first year b/c whether you get married Jan 1 or Dec 31), you’ll have to pay taxes as if you had the increased joint income all year long.
      Pre-nups do NOT protect you if your partner is in debt or owes lots of money to the IRS.  It will not protect you if he is in arrears for thousands of dollars for child support or perhaps owes money b/c of a civil lawsuit.
      In the case of taxes, they can and will get the money from the spouse when they see it is available.  I know two people who had that situation. Married men who owed loads of money to the IRS and hadn’t filed taxes for years. Guess who paid? And in one case the money was seized from bank accounts years after the marriage ended b/c the husband skipped off and couldn’t be found.  And it was so much money she struggles to this day because he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
      If you future spouse owes money for the other reasons I mentioned, it will impact his/her ability to contribute to your household.  
      People who think that you can size up how someone is with money based upon how they live vs. what they do are silly. People who think you can seriously marry someone without knowing their income, debt, and other financial obligations are being ridiculous. There are lots of situations where a person could be living modestly, making a good living, but still owe money.
      I think that I’ve read in the past that finances are a driving force behind many divorces.
      But it is ridiculous to think that you can keep your financial situation a secret from your partner and I wouldn’t marry anyone who did precisely for the reasons I mentioned. B/c it will impact your life together.

      My parents have been married many years. Decades. They both always worked. They both have separate retirement accounts from their respective jobs, and separate bank accounts (although always maintained a joint account for many household expenses). But I can say that since they have also been filing taxes together for several decades, and purchaesd several homes, that each knows the financial situation of the other, as in creditworthiness(each always had credit card in their own name), income over the years, investment accounts from work, etc.

      I had a friend who ended an engagement b/c she realized her fiance had a lot of bad financial secrets.  And again, not because she needed him to take care of her but because he lied and she found out by mistake. I think since she knew he had issues, she was willing to marry him and work with him. But then it turned out it was much worse than she’d known. And if you are going to get mixed up in paying off that kind of debt or carrying a partner while he or she pays it off, it’s important to know it. It will impact your ability to buy a home, might impact your decision on when or if to have kids.  Major life decisions.

      One good thing about prenups is that BOTH partners have to reveal all of their assets.   

  6. 6
    Julia

    How do you ask though? What is the way to find out without seeming like your being a gold digger? I know my boyfriend’s monthly/yearly income. I also know he has a large sum of money due to an inheritance and an uncle who gives he and his brother money. He will inherit more when his uncle passes (he and his brother are heirs to the rich uncle who has no children of his own) So for right now, I know there is money, that his uncle would probably buy us a house etc. Obviously I would need to know how much before we got engaged but I fell so uncomfortable talking about money. Some people view religion or politics impolite conversation, that’s how I view talking about money.

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I think it’s part of an organic ongoing discussion in a relationship. If he makes less than you, should he continue to pay for you 4 out of 5 times? Common sense would say no. If you plan to move in together in a nicer apartment, should the person earning less split the rent 50/50? Common sense would say no. If you plan to get married, do you want to be a stay at home wife and is he on board with it? Sounds like a conversation to have before you get married, not after. My wife and I got great advice from a psychologist – which should probably be its own blog post:

      Split expenses proportionately. I made 3x more than she did, so I paid 3x more for all of our household expenses (rent, car, utilities, insurance). So every month, I’d put X amount into a joint checking account to pay our bills, and so would she. Anything that we had left over was kept in personal checking accounts. So if I wanted to go to the Super Bowl or she wanted to get something really nice for her mom, we would be spending only our own money. Now that my wife is a stay at home mom, I pay for everything, which is challenging but worthwhile in its own right.

      Anyway – it’s important to be transparent about your finances, it’s important to be fair based on your net income, and it’s important to have a little something to yourself as well…

      1. 6.1.1
        Julia

        We are already working on much of this because we moved in. We both had our own rowhomes in the city before. Now we moved to a house that’s twice as big in the suburbs. Our monthly income is identical but he pays 2/3 of the rent because he works from home and requires more space. We mostly split eating out because we make the same money. He wants to take me on vacations and pay from it from that pot of “extra” money. So I guess we will eventually cross that bridge when we need to. We’ve already discussed that money as being useful to pay for private school if he have a child and if we get a free house, cool, though I never expected as much in my life. I would be thrilled to pay for a house every month until its paid off. I think I just feel weird when we are talking about “the money” to just ask “so how much is it?”

        1. Nicole

          I think it all depends on what your goals are, or how you view it. One of my friends married a guy in a similar situation.  Her attitude is that what his parents give him or will leave him isn’t really on the table (mainly b/c in her first marriage, she had a husband who very much wanted to get into a trust she had from her own grandfather and who balked at signing a prenup).  I also think that from a legal standpoint, that money would not be in play in the event of a divorce (so a person inheriting won’t pay more or receive less b/c of what Grandpa Joe left them, which is a situation one of my friends married into; her new husband is pretty well-off but has to pay wife 1 a lot of money even though she’s got family money).  A prenup isn’t a bad idea whether you are the wealthier party or not.
          At any rate, I think his parents are pretty generous. Her parents were not the type to write checks. So in terms of disclosures and gifts, if his parents offer they don’t turn it down (so they tend to get sent or taken on pretty nice holidays by his parents), but when figuring out what home to buy, she only factored in what she earned (he had actually gone back to grad school at the time).
          It seems to have worked out well so far.
          But my personal opinion is that you should talk about money but perhaps leave his family money out of it.  It sounds like it will likely help a lot in the future, but it’s probably easier to have the conversation about the money he is actually earning.  Just my two cents on it. 

      2. 6.1.2
        Aishwarya

        You’re a good guy Evan!

        My husband,  at thr start of our relationship I supported him financially and there was always his words at the time that as he got back on his feet he’d look after me etc. now he’s on his feet and he hides every detail of his income,  bank balance and savings and I’ve just discovered he has and secondary account. His reasoning? it’s just for saving for “us” yet he refuses to share any detail whatsoever. I’m a mom of one and expecting our second now, stay at home mom since having our first baby. He gives me less than bare minimum to get by on yet he justifies it by saying he pays the rent & buys groceries. He sends upwards of $700 to his ELDER brother & sister for financial support (what i discovered by chance not because he disclosed this to me) yet I find myself having to go at negotiations with him for something as simple as a winter coat. When I asked point blank why he doesn’t share the info with me he says “no I don’t have to”. True he doesn’t but in my opinion it is equally true that he should!

         

        People who say a wife has no right to know her partner’s expenses (vice versa) just don’t understand the other side of this.

  7. 7
    NASHWC

    Hmm, this is a tough choice, both for her and him. By ‘disclosure’, I’ll assume that she wants details (account names/numbers, balances, history, even credit score?) not just summary information. They may be able to strike a balance with him providing only high-level info, but I suspect that won’t satisfy her as she used the phrase “any information regarding his income or how much he is bringing to our marriage”.  And there was no mention of whether he has asked for her financials, and if so what her response was.

    Using only what the OP wrote, it sounds like he’s bringing allot more to this transaction than her and she is much more interested in his assets than he of hers. If he has significant assets and is aware of how current divorce laws heavily favor women regarding the awarding of ‘shared assets’, ‘community property’, or other asset designation (regardless of either parties actions that precipitated the divorce), he has very valid reasons to be concerned by the very real probability of financial devastation if/when she decides to bail on the marriage after any amount of time.

    Ironically, this post coincides with my just having consoled a friend (this past weekend) who has been married for 11 years, then found out his wife was cheating on him for the last year or so. Well, since the cat’s out of the bag she has filed for divorce and is demanding no less than 65% of the couples shared assets! This is on top of him having bankrolled all of their leisure and vacations during the marriage. I’ve witnessed this scenario so often, I considered it a common (even expected) occurrence now. 🙁 

    If a friend presented this scenario, I would advise (as Evan did) to walk away, however painful or embarrassing this would be. If they marry without him revealing the info she wants, she’ll forever resent and be suspicious of him. If he does reveal the detailed info she appears to want, he will sorely regret this in the likely probability she will file for divorce at some point. 

    As far as him saying he’s uncomfortable “because he’s never had to do this before”, I’m not buying it. We all do this when applying for any significant loan, and surely he’s done this already. I strongly suspect he’s being advised (rightfully so) by family or friends not to reveal much to her. The more I think about this, the more I think these two should part ways. There are unresolved ‘red flags’ here .. 

    1. 7.1
      Jeremy

      And yet he has agreed to marry her.  If you are correct, the intelligent thing for him to do would be to sign a prenup that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours”.  Without that prenup, if he marries her, the distinction is much less clear.  If he is richer than her, that is what I would expect him to do.  The fact that he isn’t asking for a prenup, and is refusing to disclose personal information, makes me actually suspect the reverse.  Perhaps he has very little and is hoping to hide that from her until he can claim it?
      This is all very dicey.  OP, if you are getting married, you need to know each other’s financial information.  Biggest causes of marital conflict are money and sex.

      1. 7.1.1
        Nicole

        You keep assuming he has a lot of money he wants to protect but as ppl have pointed out, that could be handled with a prenup. I’m inclined to think anyone who is too secretive is not doing well, owes a lot, etc. And you don’t want to find that out when you are applyingn for a home loan or because the IRS starts looting your bank accounts.

    2. 7.2
      Danaris

      If he has such great wealth that he wants  to protect, wouldn’t his response be a pre-nup?  Just because she doesn’t know the state of his finances before they marry, I would imagine that if  they were to divorce, she would hire a good attorney and he would be legally obligated to disclose his finances, and a  good attorney would try to find any assets that he might be trying to hide.  So, it seems to me that he would want to try to protect those assets upfront.

      The fact that he doesn’t want to share anything makes me think that perhaps he really isn’t as well off as she thinks she is.  If two people can’t talk openly and honestly about money, I don’t think they should get married.   

    3. 7.3
      NASHWC

      Jeremy & Danaris, yep I would have mentioned the prenup option but others already covered this and the reality is that prenup’s do not protect people and assets nearly as well as think they do (actually a much stronger legal entity is a trust, but the variance of state laws and applicability to a marriage makes this a challenge). Like all contracts, prenups are subject to being challenged by either party (regardless of the veracity of the claim) when the arrangement goes south, which then often devolves into a ‘battle of the wills’ ..  or battle of the checkbook. Over the past 40 or so years, this specialized area of contract law has accumulated a good amount of case law and has resulted in many attorneys that have added the practice of constructing and/or challenging these legal agreements when the opportunity arrives. In summary, reliance on a good prenup requires an attorney that is better practiced in writing it than the attorney that will eventually be challenging it.

      1. 7.3.1
        Nicole

        But you are acting like not telling her anything means that if they divorced she wouldn’t be entitled to it.
        No one said prenups are airtight. But if his concern is protecting his money then it’s better than nothing.
        And again, not disclosing shields him from nothing. Tell me what lawyer can say “he doesn’t owe her alimony b/c she doesn’t know how much he makes.” 

  8. 8
    starthrower68

    Evan, you are a fair guy and let folks have their say, but I don’t know how you do it some days. 🙂

  9. 9
    Selena

    I’m surprised this man would marry someone without any intention of disclosing basic financial information.  As the OP mentioned, what if something were to happen to him, how would she even know where to begin handling his accounts? 
     
    My parents have been married for over 50 years. It’s only recently she has taken over the bill paying/ account management because his eye sight diminished to the point he can’t do it any longer.  For several years prior he tried to get her interested in it  (in case something happened to him) but she refused. She didn’t want to learn how to pay bills online. She didn’t want to be too involved in their investments. As their daughter, I found this “stick my head in the sand” way of thinking scary. I worried how I would have to figure out their financials if something happened to him. 
     
    If the OP’s man feels he has to hide his financial information from his wife it sounds like he doesn’t trust her. If he doesn’t trust her why is he marrying her? This is bad foundation for taking the vows – for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. One never knows which situation lies just around the corner.
     
     

  10. 10
    starthrower68

    I have heard, particularly for couples who live on a cash only basis, that the envelope system works very well. The couple budgets the money and has envelopes designed for each amount budgeted, even for fun money. When the fun money is gone, that’s it until the next paycheck or month, however they split it up.  For the ones I’ve heard use that system, it seems to work well. 

    1. 10.1
      Clare

      My ex-husband and I used that system! (I’d never heard of it before, but came up with that idea for us.)  It worked brilliantly.

  11. 11
    Rachel

    My first husband refused to share his financial information with me as well.  He also wouldn’t give me a key to his apartment before we married (we didn’t live together until after the wedding).  He always had a great answer to everything & I often second guessed myself as to why this felt “wrong” and upsetting.  I think the main issue is that it caused a general tone of distrust right from the start.  If he couldn’t trust me with financial information or a key to his home, what else might he be keeping from me?  I didn’t feel safe in that relationship from day one.  I would be incredibly cautious of marrying someone if I didn’t feel 100% safe with them.  Transparency, honesty, and willingness to communicate are key to trust.  

    Evan has also said before that how your partner handles issues now is how they will handle issues in the future.  His unwillingness to discuss this with you & him saying he’ll “think about it” which is code for “I’ll pretend to think about it until you drop it” is going to come up again in other situations.  You may be faced with a similar attitude on other issues that are incredibly important to you…leaving you feeling unheard & like your needs simply aren’t important. 

  12. 12
    katt

    The biggest cause of problems between couples are financial. It’s only common sense to work out the finances before getting married or living together on a permanent basis.
    My parents worked everything out before they were married and as my Dad had a very good job he was the main breadwinner and my Mom stayed at home looking after my brother and I. My Mom was a very good money manager and she taught my brother and I how to manage money. They had a good marriage and there was never any arguments over how the money was spent. My husband and I worked out our finances before we got married, we were both saving for a house and worked out when we would like to have children, possibly after a couple of years providing we had our finances on track. My husband earned a lot more money than I did and there was never a question of hiding any assets from each other. Once we decided that we had a future together and wanted to get married the question about money, who pays for what, how much we save and spend, any outstanding debts that needed to be paid like car loans etc, was gone into without any hesitation. I can’t remember who brought up the subject first but I think it was my husband. Neither of us had any credit cards at that stage so that wasn’t a problem.
    I know times have changed but it seems to me that if one partner is not happy to disclose any assets for the good of the relationship or marriage and your long term future together, they aren’t there with you 100%. I know there are no guarantees that any marriage or relationship will last for a lifetime but if you are going into a marriage thinking that it’s going to fail in x amount of years, you should be thinking very hard about whether you really want to get married to someone who values their money more and isn’t interested in sharing for a long term future together.
    That financial elephant standing in the middle of the room isn’t going to go away and burying your head in the sand isn’t going to fix the problem if you can’t talk honestly about money. Evan’s idea of a third party is a good solution to get it out into the open, whether it’s a financial advisor or a trusted family member.
     
     

    1. 12.1
      Renee

      It sounds like they made a good team. Your mom contributed the hidden economic value of domestic glue and labor. People are together because it’s better than being apart. Sociological research shows men’s life spans are longer when coupled. I know this does not dismiss pain of relationship weaknesses. It is, however, statistically true. I have financially partnered with a relative and with a friend because we trust each other and it benefits both of us. I don’t have a lover that I concurrently trust financially. With various aspects to relationships, alignment of all the stars is a great achievement.

  13. 13
    Noquay

    Yep, there should be transparency in a marriage and a good deal of it beforehand. Apart from any assets, the poster brings up a really valid question: what happens if something bad happens to him? What assets, insurance policies are there, where are the accounts and what’s in them? Does he have a will, what happens to the home or other properties? These things are especially important to know if eventually, there are children. You also need to factor in end of life wishes, even when young. I see little need for secrecy at this point unless he has something major to hide.

  14. 14
    Malcolm

    @Dora:  If you ‘ll look at Marc’s original post, you’ll see that his comments on privacy/secrecy (which I quoted and to which I was responding) . . . are about privacy in general.
    My comments were not intended to refer to privacy/secrecy in relationships . . .   
    Sorry that you misinterpret. 

  15. 15
    kneedajob

     
     
      There are widely known and often dismissed importances in dating, one of which is the particular subject of finances which the letter writer mentions.  Sure, the guy she is interested in has many positive qualities, but one of the basics she is overlooking.  The positive qualities shouldn’t outweigh that negative.  Should she know his finances and information pertaining to that subject?  Yes.  Yes, period.  Are there women who would leave and not look back?  Yes, and they might arguably be more successful in relationships, finding more suitable matches.  Even if he told the writer tomorrow what she wanted to know, that probably wouldn’t satisfy her needs.  The needs are understandable and often where one large secret lies (this qualifies as one of those types), other secrets follow.  At the end of the day, her fiance is not respecting her needs.  And as Katz said, ‘Don’t let him bully you into thinking otherwise’, the writer should listen to this advice and place emphasis on the fourth word.

  16. 16
    tamara

    I think this situation is scary. A month before the wedding?? I wouldn’t expect him to disclose every last financial detail, but surely at least income and net savings? If she’s early 30s or younger, I kinda think she should break it off, but I doubt she will, because that’s a 2 year relationship..Now he knows she wants to marry him more than he wants to marry her, so he’s not conceding.

    I think Evan’s right; there should’ve been some continual discussions about finances. Women in my country don’t really have this problem, because we’re a more traditional community, so I find that v early on (1st or 2nd date, or sometimes even before the 1st date) men are already starting some financial bragging. Kinda like a male peacock displaying its colourful feathers, lol. I actually kinda wish the guys i knew would tone it down a little. Women really don’t need to know on the 2nd date what your exact income is. (And no, i don’t think it’s because i come across as a gold-digger, I am very low-maintenance). But the letter-writer’s fiance seems to be at the other unhealthy extreme.
     

    It’s a tricky scenario, and i think many of us would be curious as to how things turn out. I remember there was a story on this blog about a lady in her early 30s who was willing to walk away from her 50-year old bf when they couldn’t agree on whether to have kids (I can’t remember her name). Because he loved her, he changed his mind about it and they got married. It’d be great if smthg similar happened here, but I don’t know if it will.

    It’s not just impt to know vital financial details before marriage, but after marriage too. When i was little, my mum let my dad handle most of the finances and trusted him, turns out he got too heavily involved in the stock market and during a financial crisis he lost a 7-figure sum. They were high-earners but it still took several years to get back to a secure financial position; there was financial hardship in the meantime. So u can’t ever think that because your spouse seems responsible and smart, that they will make good financial decisions. (My dad comes across as extremely responsible and cautious). I think women who make less than their spouse might be tempted to think “Let him control the finances since he makes most of the money; I should trust him and stay out of it”, but it’s really not wise to do that.

  17. 17
    Paula

    I asked my last boyfriend after a year of dating how much money he made but he wouldn’t answer it. I guess he was insecure or something. I assumed he must be making 50k as he was an editor for a trade magazine. he was separated and had to pay lawyers money since child custody was an issue as his ex took off with their son. anyways, I assume that was why he was hesitant to talk money with me. I think he probably was in debt and probably felt shame. the truth is money *is* a big issue and if couples aren’t on the same wavelength and cannot come to a consensus on how to mutually manage their money, they *will* divorce. My ex and I aren’t together anymore for other reasons but if we got more serious and he still didn’t disclose his earnings, I’d end it. Healthy relationships require honesty. Money is still a bit of a taboo subject in our culture but it shouldn’t be. All that I think a person can do is create a safe environment for people to voice their fears and concerns. If someone still can’t be honest in spite of a safe environment, they need time for inner reflection and possibly the relationship may need to end.

  18. 18
    Fusee

    I agree with Evan and previous commenters talking about the need for trust and being on the same page regarding finances in a marriage. Getting married while refusing to reveal how much income you’re earning? Really? A divorce will force you to reveal that information : )
     
    The Letter Writer did one thing right: she made sure before moving in that they were both on the same page regarding their willingness to get married in a reasonnable of time frame if everything would go well. But like so many others she focused way too much on her goal of getting married and skipped the essential screening part of dating. How come you find yourself facing such a major issue *one* month before exchanging your vows and having to resort to ultimatums to get what you need?
     
    Conversations about finances, as well as about religious beliefs, how to raise children, holiday traditions, handling of respective families, health matters, where/how to live, etc are essential topics to discuss before proposing/accepting a proposal, and before moving in together for those who prefer to cohabitate before getting engaged/married.
     
    These conversations can certainly be a little awkward to start and can become emotionally intense. For sure some topics will reveal some differences of opinions and possibly trigger a conflict, hence the temptation to skip them, hope that what “naturally” comes up in dating/cohabiting is enough, and hope for the best… in the name of love. Love is all you need, right? Riiiiight. Problem is: these differences themselves – or the inability to find a compromise or resolve conflict – will tear the most loving couple apart. Skipping these conversations and the assessment of the ability to resolve conflict is like building a house without foundations: you sure have a “house” but at the first storm you’ll end up with rubble. It’s more effective in the long-term to take the time to build solid foundations of compatibility, ability to compromize, conflict resolution, on top of love and commitment, or leave if such foundations can’t be properly created.
     
    Some previous commenters have asked: “But do I bring up the topic? I don’t want to look like a gold-digger!”. Well, if you have not been acting as a gold-digger, if you have not been talking like a gold-digger, if you do not intend to be a gold-digger, if you are NOT a gold-digger, well do not worry about looking like a gold-digger! If he sees a gold-digger where there is none, the problem is on him not on you! But check your intentions carefully, ok? Partners sure need to discuss incomes, assets, debts, how they would split expenses and what future hopes for their lifestyle they have, but there is a fine line between asking reasonnable questions and prying.
     
    To me all these conversations about finances and everything else were as much about the actual information that was shared than on how my then boyfriend-now husband reacted during these conversations. Was he open to express a difference of opinion? How did he react if I was disagreeing? Basically if the discussion leads to a conflict, all the better! You can test your conflict resolution skills and make sure you are both able to listen to the other’s feelings, take their opinion into account and find a mutually agreeable solution to differences. And if you do uncover something truly uncompatible or a deal-breaker, well you can make your graceful exit before having inveted too much time and emotion in the relationship. Seriously, one month before the wedding is kind of late!

    1. 18.1
      Henriette

      Fusee – I’m so glad you, Kiki and other married-folk continue to comment on this site.   It’s helpful to hear from folks (besides Evan) who have achieved the “holy grail” of tying the knot… and what it looks like from the inside.  Thank you for continuing to share your insights with us.
       
      I agree that he should share his information but I’d also be very curious as to his reasons for not wanting to disclose.  He says he’s not comfortable sharing that information bc he’s never done so before, but what are the real fears behind this? That you’re going to think differently of him?  That you might expect him to support you, financially if you find out that he’s wealthy?  That you would not be discreet, and tell your family or friends “his number?”   Maybe better understanding the emotions behind his privacy will help you reassure him and allay his fears.
       
       

      1. 18.1.1
        Kiki

        Dear Henriette,
        The holy grail from the inside looks like a really big cup that needs a lot of cleaning :-). Seriously though, the topic of finances is extremely important and can be a deal-breaker for a relationship, if its not worked out.
        My husband (boyfriend at the time) lied to me once about money, and it was the only time when I seriously considered breaking off with him. We had been dating for 4 years, lived together for almost two, and we were seriously in need of some home repairs, which he kept postponing “because our budget is very tight this month”, we would be sharing the costs for those, just as all of our living costs. Then I found out, accidentally, that he had received a big bonus at work right that day, but he “forgot to tell me”. I was particularly humiliated, because a colleague of his congratulated him on receiving that bonus in front of me, not knowing that he had not told me.  We had a fight, and I left him that night, and spent the night at a hotel, having turned off my cell. In the morning he found me, apologized deeply and we made up, but I have spent a lot of time thinking why he lied to me.
        The thing is, he is a very good man, very decent, with the highest integtrity I have seen in any one. I thought that he loved me dearly, so I simply could not put these things together with the fact that he lied to me. Now, many many years later, I have explained this to myself as his masculine side needing to exercise control (controlling our spending), and that it was not such a big deal after all. By that time he already knew that we have different spending habits (I like to spend money and to buy expensive stuff whereas he is very frugal), so what he needed was to take some more time to think things over in order to satisfy his own need for safety and calculation.  He probably would have told me eventually, and would have paid for the repairs that were needed, but he would have just needed some time to think it over, and I could have gotten the same result by being patient (a virtue that sadly I don’t have :-)).  I know now that the difference in our spending attitude  comes  from the fact that I come from a richer background than his, and it is not something that one can easily shake off.
        It is not easy for me to guess in OPs letter what is the reason for his secrecy. He may need to feel in contol of the joint finances, viewing her as a lavish spender, similarly to my case. It might be a totally different reason, I really can not tell just based on the story. Lets hope that she comes back to tell us what happens next.

      2. 18.1.2
        Fusee

        Henriette, you’re bringing a good point: part of a good conversation is asking questions and exploring feelings. Therefore it involves the willingness to listen carefully and to be vulnerable, which requires deep emotional intimacy.
         
        Coincidentally with this blog post, last Saturday my husband and I had a very emotional conversation about our finances. A couple of weeks before that day out of the blue he had expressed discomfort at our current system and mentioned another method in passing, one that I disagree with and that we actually never ever considered as an option in two former discussions on finances (during dating and engagement). So after taking my time to think about it I brought up the topic again on Saturday, but instead of rushing into expressing my disagreement and hurt feelings at his suggestion I calmly asked him about his feelings and his reasons to consider a different system. Sharing our feelings of fear and showing that we were willing to take one another’s needs into account created a good foundation for a mature (although teary) conversation on whether or not to change our system. In the end, all went well and we found ourselves ready to take the next step, which for us is starting to merge some assets acquired before we got married. That was what triggered all those fears : )
         
        I agree with Kiki, the holy grail needs lot of maintenance and I have not been married for a year yet! You never know what kind of bomb your partner is going to drop, and what decision-that-you-thought-was-settled-for-good will be reconsidered! This relationship is making me practice self-control, tolerance, and patience like nothing else before : )

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          “Kiss Your Fights Goodbye” by Dr. Jamie Turndorf (www.askdrlove.com) Run, don’t walk, to pick up a copy, and thank me later.

  19. 19
    Sunflower

    BIG red flag!  I couldn’t personally marry a man who was so secretive.  How can you have true intimacy?  Trust?  Doesn’t feel right.  And, if it’s about money today, then what’s in store? Lesson learned, cut your losses and get out before you seal the deal.  Good luck!  

  20. 20
    CaliforniaGirl

    I live with my boyfriend and we know exactly how much each of us earns. He helped me to negotiate a salary when I changed jobs and he leaves his pay stab on the table when he gets it.  We know our credit scores and he showed me his credit report before we moved in together. If you are a couple and decided to get married, you should be one entity, there should be no secrets otherwise it’s not worth it. I make more money than him and have much more in savings and 401K and other assets and I felt hesitant at first but when we got to the point where we wanted to live together I showed him everything. Prenup is totally fine if he wants to keep what he has if you divorce, but not telling how much he makes, that’s really weird.

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