There comes a point in every relationship when finances are an important discussion. There's two main options once you've partnered up: pool resources into a shared bank account or keep you and your partners finances separate. We'll ignore the slight variations on those two main themes.
Some of my friends in couples have been married for a few years and have separate bank accounts and some, including myself, pool finances into a shared account. For me, pooling works well. Over the last five years my partner has had a few years off with no pay looking after children. One alternative is to give her an allowance to do the groceries and a little for spending on herself. My view is that that's not archaic, but untrusting. My partner is my partner. What is mine is hers and all that stuff. That includes money. As person with the smaller pay packet, perhaps it works out better for her. I think for us it's simply more convienient that we just pay bills when they come, rather than having to ask the other person for 50% or their share. When we want to make a purchase, the theory is we check its ok with the other, then go spend. There is no me and her, there's just us. Sounds romantic doesn't it? Does it?
The alternative is completely separate accounts, where each partner is free to spend their own hard earned however they choose. When it comes to bills, they each chip in their share. Sounds fair, very 2011, and very equal rights/status doesn't it. But how is it more romantic?
My theory is that when sharing accounts spontenous gift giving is less meaningful. If I buy my partner a gift, I've just used some of her money to pay for it. Perhaps all her money. They say it's the thought that counts and where the thought in that? Me saving my money for 4 weeks only to spend $1000 on some jewelry shows I love my partner enough to put some planning and thought into saving, and that I've actively foregone money I could otherwise spend on computer games or bike parts. I can't make that grand gesture from a shared account.
When we go out to dinner, who pays is irrelevant. There's no romance in a guy taking his lady out, when they're both footing the bill.
Probably a more sensible solution is a shared account for the household bills, where $X is automatically credit from personal account to shared account each month and each partner has their own money to make these grand gestures. Might even help guys get laid more often, and that's the real issue.