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Splitting Finances: Stop Normalizing Marriages That Function Like Divorce

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Society seems to be slowly chipping away at the institution of marriage. Progressive marriages are becoming more popular every day. Women are keeping their last names rather than taking their husband’s name. Husbands and wives are choosing not to have children because couples are declaring they do not want kids to “disrupt” how they live or impose on their financial security or hinder their travels around the world. Once upon a time, people got married to begin their own family, but now, that seems not to even be a consideration, which leaves me wondering why people are even getting married anymore.

Another phenomenon in this same vein is on the rise: Married couples do not want to blend their individual finances. This brings me to Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade. They have publicly discussed their marriage and their finances, which they split 50/50. Their version of splitting 50/50 means they split costs down the middle; they each pull from their separate accounts to make purchases. They do not combine finances; he has his money and she has hers. To me, this sounds more like what you do when you get divorced. So if this is how people are handling marriage these days — and it seems like more and more people are — then why even get married?

This marriage is definitely not traditional. Union, for example, did not want to lose her last name, so she chose to hyphenate: Union-Wade. They are raising Wade’s 16-year-old son from a previous relationship as a girl, who they are now calling Zaya, despite the fact Zaya’s mother, Siohvaughn, argues Zion is her son and is fighting them in court. Then in 2018, they chose surrogacy to have their child, Kaavia James. So, they have done some things differently in their marriage.

But the cherry on top was the interview Union did with Bloomberg. In this interview, she says everything in her household is split 50/50: “It’s weird to say I’m head of household because in this household, we split everything 50/50. But in the other households that each of us has to support, it puts this — there’s always like this gorilla on your back that’s like, ‘You better work! You better work! You want to sleep in? Somebody might not eat.’ And it’s hard.” To be clear, Gabrielle Union is worth about $50 million. Her husband, Dwyane Wade, is worth around $175 million.

Part of what made this interview so compelling and why it went viral is Wade’s net worth. Union says she feels like a gorilla is on her back to support her household when her husband is quite literally worth $175 million. This is bizarre. A couple weeks after Union’s interview, Wade answered some follow-up questions about this on the Club Shay Shay podcast saying, “I said something about it being my house that I paid for. My wife looked at me, and she was like, ‘You will never say that again when it’s something that we share.’ So when we moved to L.A., my wife said, ‘I got half on it. You will never say ‘my house’ again.’” He continues in the interview and says their purchases are all 50/50 — their home, anything for their child, anything in their lives — unless the responsibility falls solely to one person.

Wade stipulates there are some responsibilities like Union’s mother, her sisters, her dad — “she has a lot of things she’s responsible for” — that she pays 100% for. Dwyane Wade laughed a lot in this interview while talking about this topic, but does Union seem comfortable when saying she feels such stress because she knows she has other people to take care of? This is not a rational way to think in a marriage. This is not two people becoming one, but two people who have agreed they are comfortable being roommates for a long time.

I know that it has become common for people to normalize things that are so very clearly abnormal. But we should all address the fact this is not something that should be normalized. You are paying for your child as if you are divorced and there is a custody split. Enrolling your child in a private school, paying 50% of the semester while your spouse pays the other 50% of the semester, and taking this money from two separate accounts is not the way to handle finances in a marriage. Wade is professing this as though it’s cool and chic and forward-thinking — but it’s not.

So, what is the purpose of marriage? Marriage is when two people become one. However, now couples are changing what it even means to become one. They do not view marriage as a partnership or a family. Rather, they view marriage as an opportunity for Instagram moments. I think a lot of people get married because they want to have a wedding and post on social media. Couples date for seven years, then finally get married. And even if everyone wonders if they should have gotten married, the general thought is usually: What else were they going to do? She wants a ring, her wedding, and a white dress, and they need to take the tourist hand shot and she-said-yes photo we all see on Instagram after the engagement.

Another reason people seem to get married today is to resolve insecurities. In reality, people do not want to be alone — but that does not mean loneliness disappears once married. Maybe one in the pair experienced a bad relationship in the past or a horrific breakup and they think they will be safe in a marriage because it requires more commitment. After all, it is more difficult to break up a marriage and get lawyers involved. And then there is the obvious: Married couples get tax incentives. They think it makes more sense to be married for the tax break, rather than just agreeing to be roommates.

This is a conversation worth having because I believe if we talk about the corrosion of family values in society, we also need to know and understand that people are not even aspiring to have a family anymore, even when they are entering a union that is meant to represent family. The corrosive elements of these partnerships display anything but God, faith, and the core institution of family.

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