DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife has recently purchased a car for herself. I had no idea she even had the funds to do something like this. She gave her old car to our daughter to take to college and refuses to answer any of my questions about her personal finances.
I have a separate account from our joint account, but I would tell her anything she wanted to know about my finances. Doesn't my wife owe it to me to disclose her financial statements? I could never imagine hiding thousands of dollars from her. -- No Secrets, Baltimore
DEAR NO SECRETS: Your wife is likely following old-school wisdom that tells women they should always have a private stash of money. Years ago, this was particularly popular for women who did not work or who earned a much smaller income than their husbands, just to ensure that they would have a cushion in case their husbands did not share resources.
Is this the best practice? No. In a healthy marriage, it is much better for both partners to be open and honest about everything, especially finances. Rather than pressing her at this moment, take a step back and ask yourself why she may be doing this. Did you two talk about buying a car for your daughter, and you were against it? Has anything occurred between you and your wife that would make her feel that she needed to have a personal stash and spend it now?
When you do broach the subject again, take the approach of wanting to learn. Ask her if you have done anything that encouraged her to feel she had to hide money from you. Make it clear to her that you want to understand where the two of you are. You want to be in alignment, but right now you aren't.