Couples and Money: Breaking the Statistics

March 25, 2013

Photo by kevin dooley via flickr

There are plenty of reasons why people find their dreams of matrimonial bliss shattered by divorce, but can you guess which reason is at the forefront? If you guessed money or finances, you are spot on.

According to one study conducted by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University, the likelihood of a couple divorcing could be directly attributed to the frequency of their financial disagreements. Couples are 30% more likely to end up in divorce court if they disagree about finances once a week, while fighting almost daily increases the risk to 125-160%.

A 2010 study by American Express found that nearly 30% of couples cited finances as the greatest cause of stress in their relationship and only 43% made it a point to discuss their financial situation before walking down the aisle.

Advice runs rampant on the topic of how to create a positive conversation about money with your partner, but most experts follow a similar path to the end goal.

Tip #1 – Know where you stand beforehand.

If you haven’t said “I do” yet, start talking about money now – your debt load, credit health, spending habits, money goals, etc. Knowing how compatible you are in this area of your life now can help you understand the issues that may arise later and how to address them.

Tip #2 – Honesty is key.

Money lies have a way of rearing their ugly head sooner or later – especially if you intend on making a big purchase together at some point down the road. Start with the truth, no matter how ugly it is. If full disclosure is at the center of your money talks, there will be less surprises – and arguments – later on.

Tip #3 – Create a budget together.

Your spending priorities might be drastically different, so it’s important to come together in order to create one agreed-upon budget for the household. The more detailed and organized you are, the less you’ll have to argue about every dollar that goes out.

Tip #4 – Decide upon financial goals as a couple.

If you know that you’re working towards a goal (that is agreed upon by both parties), staying within a budget will feel like a proactive choice instead of a punishment. It will also give you a positive reason to check in with each other and stay tuned in to your finances.

Tip #5 – Plan for the unexpected.

Unexpected expenses (and unexpected stress) can easily breed resentment if you aren’t prepared financially to handle them. Avoid delving into an argument about purchases past by ensuring that all your bases are covered – no matter what life throws at you.

Check out these great articles for a few other tips on money-proofing your relationship:

The Six Financial Mistakes Couples Make on SmartMoney
Coping Mechanisms for a Spender-Saver Relationship on Wisebread
Couples and Money Arguments on Forbes
Ten Questions to Consider Before You Commit on Money Management International

How do you handle money talks with your significant other? Share your experience by leaving a comment.

Other articles you may be interested in:
7 Simple Ways to Start Saving Today
There’s an App for That: Money Management