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This Could be Why You and Your Significant
Other Fight About Money



According to a Harris Interactive poll, 38 percent of men and women said that money was the number-one cause of marital conflict … and that was in 2006 -- before the economy really got bad.


It’s common for spenders to marry savers … which often leads to intense financial conflict in the marriage.

Nowadays it’s a fair assumption to say that nearly all couples argue about money from time to time, and for a growing portion of them those arguments may be a key source of stress in the relationship.

However, the economy may actually have little impact on your frustrations with your spouse’s attitudes about money. In fact, according to a working paper by professors of the Wharton School of Finance and Northwestern University, it’s common for big spenders to marry big savers.

"Surveys of married adults suggest that opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending," the researchers said in the paper.

They posit that people who are big savers and find it painful to spend may dislike the characteristic and be attracted to those who spend freely, and vice versa. This is ironic, as single people tend to say they’d be happiest marrying a person with similar spending habits to their own.

"The disconnect between what people say they look for in an ideal mate and the characteristics of actual mates to whom they are attracted is unfortunate," the researchers wrote.

And as you might suspect, the different spending personalities often don’t mesh, leading to greater financial conflicts in the relationship.

Is Money an Issue in Your Marriage?

Dealing with different spending personalities can always be a struggle, but when finances get tight, something many couples are dealing with right now, it puts even more stress on your marriage. But that doesn’t mean your happiness or intimacy has to suffer.

One of the most important scenarios to avoid is letting money become a control issue. If one partner earns more money than the other, it can feel as though they have more of an entitlement to the money, or in deciding how it’s spent. They don’t. As a couple, you need to make financial decisions together, regardless of who earns more.

Further, now is the time to be extra supportive if your spouse loses their job. Losing a job can be akin to losing your identity or self-worth. Realize your partner may be struggling with such issues after a lay off, and go the extra mile to let them know how much you appreciate and admire them, regardless of what job they hold.

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Also be careful about meddling family members. While it’s normal to get some support and advice from your in-laws and other extended family, they should not interfere to the point it makes you or your partner uncomfortable. It’s important for you and your spouse to make financial and other decisions as a combined unit, separate from the families you grew up in.

Of course, practical steps can help too. Sit down with your spouse and discuss your finances. You will likely need to agree on a plan to cut back on spending, put more into savings, or try to increase your income, depending on your situation. And having a simple budget that you both agree on and follow is always a good idea.

Tips for Making Your Marriage Stronger

If you're having serious marital problems, seek help right away. The average couple waits six years before seeking marital counseling, which means they're living unhappily for far too long.

You should also become aware of the certainty vs. uncertainty principle, which is a hidden cause of many divorces.

When we have great "certainty" there is an urge for most of us to seek “uncertainty.” In the case of marriage, your “certainty” quotient is filled, your relationship steady and secure.

Yet, for many of us this potentially good feeling turns into boredom and staleness, and invokes a sense of not being fully alive or excited any longer. This then drives us to seek the other end of the spectrum, or look for “uncertainty.”

When you realize the dynamics of certainty vs. uncertainty -- and the fact that we often seek out that which we do not have -- you can take steps to remedy the situation before you engage in an activity that harms your marriage.

To find out those steps, along with many tips to get your marriage back on solid ground, please read our past article Are You at Risk of an Unnecessary Divorce? The Secret Relationship Killer You Need to Know About.

Recommended Reading

In Marriage, Will Love Really Keep You Together?

10 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last -- Even Get Stronger -- During the Recession


Yahoo News July 28, 2009

Yahoo Health December 13, 2006

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