More Than Half Of Marriages End Because Of This One Preventable Issue

Photo: Leah Flores

When asked the most common reason marriages end, the vast majority of people say "growing apart." There's no argument that that's a common reason couples split. However, the average American has no idea there's a much more insidious, frequent, and preventable cause plaguing the marriages of even the most compatible people—money.

According to a national survey executed by Edelman Intelligence, more than half of divorcees say financial conflict played a role in their breakup—with 20 percent going as far as to say it was a key factor. But why? Most people know how much their partner makes before they tie the knot. Barring unrealistic expectations and flat-out deception, how could finances drive a wedge between two people who were otherwise well-suited to each other?

Think about what makes two people compatible: They share interests (triathlons!), priorities (family first), and lifestyle preferences (staying home to watch movies on a Friday night). What people tend to forget (or don't realize to begin with) is that the way you deal with money is a big part of your lifestyle. But, unlike how you spend your weekends or whether or not you like cats, your financial habits aren't something it's easy to discover in the course of a dating relationship. Sure, you know if your partner is comfortable picking up the check. But do you have any idea what their credit score is?

Turns out, the knowing makes all the difference. Almost without exception, surveyed married couples knew much more about their partner's finances before they got hitched than the couples who didn't last.

Here's what successful married couples knew before the wedding (that divorcees didn't):

  • 12 percent more married couples knew their partners' credit scores.
  • 23 percent more married people knew their partner's income.
  • 36 percent more lovebirds were aware of their mate's student loan debt.
  • 30 percent more married folks had a sense of their intended's bill payment history.
  • And, perhaps most significantly, twice as many married couples knew their spouse's long-term financial goals and retirement savings before tying the knot.

It's no surprise to anyone who's committed to creating and sustaining a conscious relationship that communication is the foundation on which everything else is built. But asking your partner the 36 questions it takes to fall in love, just to make sure you know all the answers, is a lot more romantic than laying bare your bank balance and credit history. The take-away here is that it's no less important.

So, before you pop that question (or answer it), make a date with your partner to sit down with a bottle of wine and get real about where you are financially—and where you hope to be in five, 10, and 50 years' time. Promise beforehand to leave judgment at the door and approach this conversation like every other challenge you face—as a team. By going in with your eyes wide open and a foundation of trust between you, you've got a much better chance of reaching those financial goals with the one you love by your side.

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