Who handles the money in your home? What kind of debt load do you carry? How often do you argue about spending money?
The 2009 State of Our Unions: Marriage in America research conducted by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, focused on money and marriage, including the influence that debt, assets, spending patterns and materialism have on marriage.
The findings indicate a strong correlation between consumer debt and marital satisfaction.
The study found that money matters are some of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared to other issues, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.
Contributing researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Dew, professor of family studies at Utah State University, found that credit card debt and financial conflict are corrosive to marriages. Couples who report disagreeing about finances once a week are 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who disagree about it a few times a month. Dew also found that couples with no assets were 70 percent more likely to divorce than couples with $10,000 in assets.
Interestingly, perceptions of how well one’s spouse handles money plays a role in shaping the quality and stability of family life in the United States. And, people who feel that their spouse does not handle money well report lower levels of marital happiness.
Materialist spouses are also more likely to suffer from marital problems. Materialistic individuals report more financial problems in their marriage and more marital conflict, whether they are rich, poor or middle-class. For these husbands and wives, it would seem that they never have enough money.
Maybe you’ve never given much thought to how you spend your money. Perhaps it never even occurred to you that what you are or are not doing with your money directly impacts the state of your marriage.
It’s never too late to make changes. Here are some suggestions from financial experts:
- Start with a conversation about your financial goals. If this is not something you can do by yourselves, consider attending a class on managing your finances.
- Put all of your financial documents in a central location and go through them as a couple.
- Track your spending. In order to make appropriate changes, you need to know where your money is going.
- Start an emergency fund. Even putting a small amount in each month can be a safety net when you need extra cash.
- Make a budget and commit to living within your means.
One of the secrets to marital bliss is making sure that you control the money together instead of letting money control you. There seems to be something powerful, even sexy, about working with your mate to control your finances.
Check out crown.org, daveramsey.com or MagnifyMoney.com for information on establishing a budget. You’ll also find information for reducing debt, eliminating unnecessary fees and saving for the future.