A couple that spends together, squabbles together.

A couple that spends together, squabbles together. Photo: Glenn Hunt

So you have a joint bank account. How’s that working out for you? Are you happier and more in love than ever?

At some level, sharing is behind every couple’s decision to shack-up, get hitched, or have kids. From bodily fluids to building finances, yours-is-mine living is desired because anything less is considered unloving.

Which is why a couple who make a joint decision to un-share something get flooded with a deluge of criticism from the mainstream – “it’s a sign you don’t love each other anymore”.

But can a separation of something once shared ever be good for your love life, or is it always a harbinger of doom?

I say hear this: Demergers aren’t definitively dire. From unshared bank-accounts to unshared bedrooms, there is plenty of good to be got from a little bit of splitting up.

Why and how? Read on.

From latent communism to the Hapsburg chin, history has shown too much sharing can cause civilisations to crumble, and I’m surely not the only one who loathes over-sharing on in-your-Facebook. There’s only so much of someone else’s life we can take before our own lives are adversely affected.

And, despite all that business about absolute oneness and total togetherness, the same idea about superabundance being super-annoying applies to our romantic relationships.

Yes, it is right to want to be all about someone else, yes commitment requires cooperation. But degrees of autonomy need to be maintained otherwise the whole thing is burned up by all-consuming passion - no longevity there.

Let’s look at money as an example.

A couple I know – who are wed and very clever mind you – have decided to shelve the single joint bank account idea in favour of a mutual kitty for household spending complemented by separate, individual accounts with which they might do as they each pleased.  

Both working professionals, both fairly evenly fiscally endowed, this couple saw it as a way to get around those niggling, every-other-night squabbles over spending habits – the kind of irritating power-struggles which are so problematic because no-one is ever to blame, and everyone stands to become frustrated.  

They copped a lot of flack from their friends who thought it was a sign things weren’t going so well. Perhaps they didn’t trust each other? Was there something he or she was trying to hide? Smells like an affair, or worse, an online shopping addiction!

Of course, those most critical fail to realise that decisions sensible couples make about how to organise the things we cannot avoid – such money, or domestic space – may actually be the result of open, honest, reasonable and (my favourite) rational conversation. Just because they choose to do something differently doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on the rocks.

And when you consider more couples argue about cash than chores or children, and those who regularly squabble about dollars and cents are over 30 per cent more likely to get divorced, innovations about monetary management make, well, sense. Unsharing, where necessary, might just make the most of it.

Indeed, when you consider the other common complaint about long-term-relationships exceedingly well represented on this blog - lack of sex in the master bed – such innovative unsharing also makes sense. Unsharing of the master bedroom that is (though unsharing your master sex partner also works for swingers).

Of course, demergers aren’t right for everyone. Which is kind of the point – everyone, and every relationship is different. I just wish we lived in a world where such difference was actually considered the norm.

But until we do, I wonder – where do you stand?

Could you ever unshare, or demerge, something which had been shared previously? Could you give up jointness if it meant you were less disjointed? Cooperative unco-operation -  smart move, or a fatal folly?

 

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kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au