Money and relationships are inextricably tied, each exerting significant influence upon the other. Don’t believe me? In 2009 – during the dark days of the real estate crash and Great Recession – there were more foreclosures than marriages in the U.S.
I know what you’re thinking – there we an unprecedented number of foreclosures at that time, but the data on divorces during those financial hard times is actually fascinating – and not what you might expect.
Contrary to what you might think, the divorce rates were way DOWN during the Great Recession years. In fact, divorce rates fell an astounding 7% just between 2006 and 2009.
How is possible when people were obviously under huge stress and fighting more about finances during that period?
Frankly, people didn’t have the financial means to get divorced, live with one income on their own, and they didn’t want to split up assets that were no worth what was owed (like the family house).
Of those who (anonymously) reported that they were considering separation or divorce before the financial collapse, 38% said that the recession caused them to put those thoughts of splitting aside.
And 29% of people reported that “the recession has deepened my commitment to my marriage.”
Let’s look at more facts about the relationship between marriage and finances….and to see if you’re committing financial infidelity.
First, let’s look at some hard data on marriages and relationships in America:
Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 2.1 million weddings or new marriages.
Among all adult men, 67% are or have been married, while 33% have never been wed.
For women, 72.8% have walked down the aisle, with only 27.2% never married.
Among married guys, 42.5% are married to their first spouse; 9% to their second spouse; and 2.3 to their third spouse (or more!).
40.6% of women are married to their first spouse; 7.9% to their second; and 1.9% to their third or more.
So how many people have been divorced? 20.5% of adult men have been a divorced, and 9.1% are currently divorced. Interestingly, 22.4% of women have been divorced before, and 11.3% are now divorced – significantly higher than the rates for men.
How does money impact a marriage?
About 50% of married people surveyed believe that money is an important factor in their relationship, while only 15% said that money matters weren’t important.
Studies have found that the average couple getting married today has a 40-50% chance of getting divorced at some point.
However, couples with no significant assets going into the marriage were 70% more likely to get divorced than couples that were solid financially.
But if your income is at least the U.S. median (about $50,000), your risk of divorce is decreased by 30% (compared to those who make $25,000 or less).
In fact, only substance abuse problems and extramarital affairs are bigger predictors of divorce!
If you feel that your spouse spends money irresponsibly, your likelihood of divorce is increased by 45%.
Credit card debt is also a black cloud over relationships. Researchers found that newly married couples who took on a lot of credit card debt became less happy over time.
But newlyweds who cut back, saved, and paid off or stayed out of debt measured higher levels of happiness over their marriages.
43% of people don’t know their partner’s credit score before getting married!
Money communication is everything in a marriage.
Studies show that when couples talk about money and their finances at least once per week, 42% describe their relationship as “extremely happy.”
However, when they talk about money less than once a month, only 27% are extremely happy.
When couples are stable financially, about 68% of them describe their communication with their partner as “perfect” or “very good.”
Interestingly, women prefer to communicate about money more than men among married couples. In fact, 75% of females surveyed say that it’s “very important” to communicate about finances, compared to only 67% of men.
But communication isn’t always welcomed, as 35% of married people “dread getting a lecture” about money from their spouse!
But men and women often aren’t in-sync.
Research shows that about 80% of married couples do make big financial decisions together, and an equal percentage claim to be on the same page as their partner.
However, surveys and hard data sometimes prove otherwise. In fact, 4 in 10 (43%) don’t even accurately know their partner’s personal income, and 10% were off by $25,000 or more!
Additionally, more than one-third (36%) disagree on the worth of their combined household assets.
While most financial decisions (58%) are made jointly in a marriage, about 30% of the time, one partner takes on a bigger role in managing finances. In fact, about 26% of men but only 14% of women are the primary decision-makers about money.
Are you “normal” if you fight about money?
Reportedly, 70% of married couples argue about money and finances.
That means they fight about their savings, debt, income, and investments more than they argue about anything else.
In fact, money is the number one cause of arguments in U.S. marriages, starting 31% of all nuptial fights. Sparring over household chores is next (28%), followed by rifts over in-laws (22%), and sex (15%).
When couples argue about dollars and cents, it’s usually about:
11% Exclusion from decisions.
So what’s a “normal” amount of disagreements about finances? About 31% of all couples — even the ones that say they are very happy – have at least one fight over finances and money once a month or more.
The financial advice marriage people want to give you:
So if you’re a young person thinking about tying the knot, what advice would seasoned married couples like to give you? When asked for their best advice to newlyweds, married people suggested:
71% Communicate better with your partner
57% Saves as early as possible for retirement
41% Make all financial decisions together, no matter what they are
Are you committing financial infidelity?
Once they are legally wed, many couples combine their finances. However, 31% of Americans admit to lying to their significant other about their finances!
68% of U.S. adults say that a current or past romantic relationship was affected by financial deception that one or the other committed.
58% hide cash from their spouse or partner.
54% hid a minor purchase from their partner.
Among women, the top-secret purchases are clothing, shoes, and gifts for family.
When men hide their spending, its usually for sports equipment or tickets, for a hobby, or on electronics.
34% lied about significant financial aspects like income, debt, and savings.
30% even hid a financial statement or bill from their spouse!