I am British, in my mid-twenties, and in a pretty well paying job. My wife is Chinese, a few years older than me, and while having a moderately well paying job previously is currently is a student. We've been married for four years now, and she has no savings of her own, and as such she relies on me for her finances. We live in the UK, and generally our marriage is in good shape.
I was brought up in a middle-class family -- not poor, but I still certainly couldn't have everything I wanted as a kid. This has led me to always seek justification before spending. That's not to say I won't splash out on expensive items -- I will, but I have to be confident that there's a good reason for spending the money first. For example, I sim race a lot and so have a fairly expensive wheel and pedal set, but I felt this was justified as I was spending a lot of time on this activity and thought (correctly) it would increase my enjoyment.
My wife has a different way of thinking about money. She enjoys shopping and buying new things, but she thinks much more about the quality of items rather than the price. This would be fine in a field I'm comfortable with and understand the quality difference -- for example, when buying a new computer -- but in fields like jewellery and clothes, I find it very hard to quantify the benefits of spending a lot more in order to get higher quality. My wife correctly complains that I am only comfortable spending money based on my own thinking process, even if she is the one the purchase is for. This results in arguments when the item is not something I know enough about to quantify the benefits of.
I've suggested giving her a budget each month for spending with no restrictions on what's purchased with it, but she says that this would still stress her out as now she would always have to put money in the equation when deciding what to purchase. The truth is that I do earn a lot of money for my age and we save a lot of money as it is, so I could likely afford these items, but I find it hard to bring myself to spend money that I don't understand the justification for spending. Asking her what she would do in my position if the roles were reversed, she says she wouldn't impose any restrictions on me, which may well be true, but I'm uneasy going that far.
I don't want our differences in spending philosophy to affect our relationship, but I also am concerned about the ramifications about giving someone free access to my finances, even my own wife. We've discussed that we would keep our finances separate many times in the past, and I already percieve that I allow her more financial leeway than I generally allow myself.
Am I being unreasonable? What haven't I tried that might be helpful?