Having financial independence doesn't mean just being free to splurge or filling notebooks with calculations to maintain economic equity. For Chad Randle—a 37-year-old restaurateur in Maryland with two children—the joy of separate finances comes from being able to simply buy the small stuff rather than let his wife play domestic tastemaker.

"I'm not going to drink cheap beer," Randle says. "I'm going to drink Guinness. It's not like I have 10 cases of Guinness in the garage, but even if I did, to hell with her."

For guys like Randle—who keeps his own savings account and who pays the mortgage while his wife, Christine, 38, ponies up for utilities and child care to even things out—the thought of freedom from having to report back about, account for, and defend their expenditures is what leads them to separate financially from their wives.

"I have a couple of guy friends who are the big breadwinners in their families but their wives put them on allowances," Marc Bliss says. "If they knew, they would envy me, because I spend my money any way I want."

But according to Lisa Peterson, president of Lantern Financial, LLC, roommate-style monetary arrangements can cause trouble down the road. With the financial pie split in half, couples who dream of a vitamin-commercial-quality retirement may not realize that while one spouse is saving to have enough cash to retire to the French Riviera, the other is snapping up a new iPhone every time there's an upgrade.

Eve Kaplan of Kaplan Financial Advisors in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, has seen the separate-finances approach go awry. "I met a wife who was talking about having another child, and her husband was talking all about himself—now and in retirement," Kaplan says. "If one person has enough money to last them to 95 and the other is going to run out at age 70, what happens then?"

In the meantime, as the economy continues to flatline, guys like 44-year-old John Hall—a fitness professional in Chicago who pays the mortgage and utilities while his wife takes care of her own incidentals and credit cards—are taking a hard-nosed approach to short-term financial woes.

"My wife works at a mortgage brokerage, so she's been financially strapped," he says. "But I'm like, 'Hey, that's on you. Those are your bills. Don't bitch to me about your bills.'"