Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Financial Fights Are the Best Predictor of Divorce

The 2009 edition of The State of Our Unions has just been released by the National Marriage Project under new editors Brad Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt. The focus of the report this year is financial issues that affect marriage, especially during this recession.

The lead report is Jeffrey Dew's "Bank on It: Thrifty Couples Are The Happiest." I want to lift up three particularly interesting points from his study.

Paul Amato and Stacey Rogers showed a decade ago that the top three predictors of divorce, in declining order, are extramarital affairs, drug or alcohol abuse, and "feeling that one's spouse spent money foolishly."

The trend of a couple's relation to debt was a significant factor in their happiness. If they started in debt but reduced it, they became happier; if they started with no debt but added to it, they became unhappier.

Third, Dew's own study found that the amount of conflict over money matters predicts divorce better than any other factor.


randy said...

here's another factor which i'll bet contributes to any trend away from marriage; debt.

would someone who was debt-free marry someone who was in the hole for, say, 15 thou?

i know i wouldnt.

Mary Jo said...

15 thousand is a reasonable amount of student loan debt. That wouldn't keep me from marrying someone. 15 thousand in credit card debt is much different.

randy said...

right. yes, that is the sort of debt i meant

San Diego Attorney said...

It is important to be open about finances and have "the talk" before getting married. I think there are too many couple that rush into things without talking things trough.

Do you want kids? how many?
Are you a saver or spender?
Who will take hold of finances?
Where will you live?
How involved with extended family be?
Dogs or cats?

There are tons of sources of fights within a marriage. It's clear people need to take a moment to discuss these things before they say "I do." Otherwise, no one wants to hear a sob story about why it didn't work.