My two cents on the matter:
Money in nuclear families is a paradox. In my family, as in many, our finances are shared, our bills are shared. While I have been the one to earn practically all of the money and to ensure that all of the bills are paid, I never have viewed this as my money. It is not my money. It is made for my family and spent to better my family. It buys our food, shelter, and communal pleasures. It is ours, but does not belong to a single one of us. If I were to take from the pool, I would be taking from us all. And I would not be able to pay back what I have taken because what I make is not mine; it is ours. It may seem strange, but this is how family money works. We own as part of a whole, not individually.
When my husband was unemployed and going through his depression, our money was tight, and one of the things he lamented was that he did not have his own money. When he would ask if we could spare any for a night out with friends, I, being in charge of the bills, would do a mental check and usually respond that $50 here and $100 there add up and we really can not afford that, nor can we afford to make the withdrawal equally benefit everyone. This is not to say that he was denied pleasures, but that inexpensive ones were encouraged, like BBQing or hanging out around the house.
What I did not realize is that after many attempts to explain the state of our finances to my husband, he did not understand the point I was making. He continued to think about any money he earned or was gifted as “his money” to do with as he pleased. I do not think he considered any of it as “family money” unless we specifically discussed how it would be spent. And I am fairly certain he was mad at me for saying that we can not afford for him to spend our money an expensive night on the town with his friends.
Had we had separate finances and had he regularly and equally contributed his money to the family pool, then what he spent on his girlfriends would not have been taken from us. It still would have been used selfishly and destructively, but it would not have been spent at our expense.
This, however, was not the case. He was unemployed and did not contribute much money to the family at all. When my husband spent money on his girlfriends or on babysitters so he could pursue his girlfriends, he stole from his family. He used the money that he knew was ours and that he perhaps even thought of as “mine” to betray me and our family.
The money that he spent was our family’s money, and as family money, he can never pay it back. He stole money from our family to betray the family. This debt can never be settled. The theft is eternal.