A few years ago, one of our friends from a gay couple asked us how we managed money. There's no written rules on that, as far as gay relationships are concerned, but I think many gay couples are curious about how other couples handle it. I know I am.
When Chris and I first moved in together, in 1993, both of us worked, and both of us kept our money separate. That is, my money stayed my money, and Chris's money stayed his money...EXCEPT for shared expenses. (I think both of us felt a little insecure about our relationship, which was very young then, not knowing if it would last, and we kept our money separate in case each of us had to go his separate way. Fortunately, that didn't happen.) Every common expense, including rent, food, utilities, and the like, was shared 50/50. I looked after paying everything, gave Chris a detailed list of his portion of our shared expenses, and he wrote me a cheque. That's the system we used for many years.
When we bought our first home together, in late 1994, we shared all those expenses 50/50 as well, again, because it would just be easier that way if our relationship didn't work, and we had to divide everything in half.
After we moved to Victoria in August 2000, we still kept our money separate, and we still shared common expenses. But I made about 60% of our household income, and Chris made about 40%.
I learned from a book I read long before I met Chris that money is power in relationships. The person making more money has more "power," so to speak, and, if something isn't done to equalize the amount of money between two people, the couple is generally restricted, as far as what they can do, to how much the lower income earner can afford. So I tried to equalize the situation between Chris and me by taking on a larger share of our expenses, giving us a better chance to live a less financially restricted life together.
Two and a half years after we moved to Victoria, Chris and I decided to buy our townhouse (the one we live in now and recently sold so we could move to _________). Chris didn't have enough money to help with half of the down payment, so I paid the full amount. But it was at that point that I began to look at my money as more our money. As far as I was concerned, Chris had put in half of the money required for the down payment.
The above financial arrangements between Chris and me as a couple remained in place until I left my job to pursue a writing career in July 2007. Both of us understood that I may not earn an income for some time, but we knew, having sold our condo in Vancouver and having paid off all of our debt, that we could easily live on Chris's income alone.
This was a big adjustment for me. For the first time in nearly thirty years, I didn't earn a penny. I haven't earned anything in over a year and a half now. Sometimes, I feel guilty and believe that I need to earn an income to help with our expenses.
But our lifestyle hasn't changed as a result of me leaving my job, and Chris has been wonderful about supporting my writing efforts and reminding me repeatedly that his money is now our money. He has never once made me feel guilty about not earning anything, and I'm most grateful for that and for his generosity.
When our household income was reduced from two wage earners to one, Chris made me joint on all of his accounts, as I did on mine. When he gets paid, "we" get paid. And I look after all of our finances, ensuring money is set aside for uncommon expenses, paying all monthly bills, and putting aside funds so we can afford to do things in the future. This arrangement has worked great for us, Chris has been completely supportive, and I imagine we'll continue this way for some time to come...until there is another change in our lives.
If I've learned anything over the past seventeen years, it's that financial arrangements in a couple can change as their lives together change, and you have to be prepared to adapt to those changes, keeping what's best for the couple foremost in mind. If you do that, money doesn't become an issue between the two of you.