New research emerging from Jeffrey Dew, an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Consumer and Human Development at Utah State University, indicates that despite common fights over house work, quality time, and sex, money and financial matters remains one of the potentially most contentious battles fought by couples, often leading to divorce. So if finances are one of the prime risk factors for divorce, Dew argues that finding your financial soul mate may be just as important as anything else.
Dew and his colleagues studied couples and discovered that out of the five most common arguments “money was the only type of fight predicting divorce; for women, it was money and sex, but money was the stronger predictor.”
But is it just about not having enough money? Dew says no. In fact, often the fights are less about not having money and more about how the money is managed, saved and spent. Dew does note, however, that fights over how money is spent could be an indication of other problems in the relationship such as control or insecurity. This could mirror other issues such as sex, which if the couple is not having it may have less to do with sex than something else. Like sex, money issues could be a symptom rather than the issue itself.
When do you discuss money in a marriage?
Couples may also seem fine when they have plenty of money. According to Morgana Rae, author of Financial Alchemy: Twelve Months of Magic and Manifestation, couples may “gloss over” their issues if they have money, but the relationship may quickly deteriorate when the couple loses their money.
So when do you talk about money. Although it’s not romantic, and it’s a topic which is frequently avoided by couples who are contemplating marriage, experts recommend talking about finances and money management as soon as possible. If a relationship is getting serious, it’s time to broach the topic and potentially avoid problems later.
What questions should you ask? Rae suggests that each couple should be willing to discuss their savings goals, how much money they spend, and their income. Other experts recommend detailing your debt levels and your credit scores. Any information that helps couples make a better decision and helps them understand how the other person’s financial history may impact their own should be discussed.
It sounds like a simple discussion, but relationship experts note that many individuals may have shame and fear about money. They also may have deeply rooted ideas and values about money. Everyone has learned something about money, how it’s viewed and how it should be spent. For this reason arguments about money can be very difficult to resolve.
Tips for resolving money matters
So what do the experts suggest to avoid common money arguments? The first step is to talk about it. Next, experts suggest setting priorities together as a couple BEFORE the marriage. This includes building a budget and outlining your future savings goals. Doing this together is especially important so each couple can be invested in the plan and ready to commit to following it. Next, it’s time to negotiate. Even if you are not both savers it is possible to negotiate and compromise and have a healthy relationship.
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