12 Overlooked Financial Reasons Why Marriages Fail
Money seems to affect relationships whether people admit it or not. A recent survey by Experian found that 59 percent of divorced people said financial problems played a role in the breakup of their marriages. There's one common theme among couples whose finances cause marital strife: a lack of communication. Need more specifics? Here are 12 of the most common financial pitfalls of failed marriages.
The finer points of 401(k)s and Roth IRAs don't make for easy conversation. But knowing your partner's financial plans before tying the knot seems to correlate with a successful marriage. Compared with divorced individuals, people who were still married were twice as likely to have shared this information.
Slightly more than half of divorced people surveyed considered themselves financially incompatible with their former spouses. When one spouse is considerably more liberal with spending, for example, it seems to predict divorce.
About half of women and 42 percent of men reported that their credit scores declined before their marriages ended. The problem might stem from not discussing how to use credit as a couple: 85 percent of people in successful marriages reported having conversations about credit versus just 21 percent of divorced people.
A whopping 59 percent of divorced people wish they had been more financially independent during their marriages. It might be difficult to establish boundaries, or for both partners to maintain a source of income after having children, but the consensus among divorced people is that financial independence is desirable, whether or not the marriage is going to end.
It seems that arguing about finances in the early stages of a relationship is a reliable indicator of divorce, according to a study out of Kansas State University. Arguments about finances tend to be more intense than other disagreements, possibly because money touches on deeper issues such as trust and power.
It's impossible to make long-term financial plans before marriage if couples don't know each other's incomes. So maybe it's not surprising that only half of divorced people knew their partner's income before marriage, the Experian survey found. Conversely, about 80 percent of people in successful marriages shared this information.
Whether it's because they didn't pay attention or because their partner changed after getting married, 71 percent of women said their partner's spending habits were different than they expected before marriage, according to Experian. Interestingly, only 54 percent of men said the same.
Some people might want to put every spare penny toward paying off debt, while others might be more lax. Couples who don't agree on how to pay off debt are more likely to run into arguments, and possibly divorce.
A power imbalance can develop among couples who don't share reasonable amounts of financial responsibility. If one spouse offers to pay all the bills, it might seem nice at first. But over time, this can cause resentment when other marital problems arise. Worse, more deliberate acts of control over a spouse can amount to financial or economic abuse.
The spouse who earns more tends to have more say in big decisions. Interestingly, when women are the primary earners, they usually employ a more collaborative approach -- "we decide" versus "I decide," according to a Money magazine survey. Regardless, it's important for couples to agree on how they plan to approach decision making.
Spouses don't necessarily need to earn similar incomes for a relationship to be healthy. But it certainly doesn't hurt. When wives earned as much as or more than their husbands, both spouses reported higher marital satisfaction, better sex lives, and higher levels of happiness, according to the Money survey.