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Money arguments top predictor of divorce

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Arguing with your spouse about money? You may be headed for a divorce.

According to a new study by a University of Kansas researcher, couples who argue about finances early in their relationships are at a greater risk for divorce.

"Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce," said Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and programme director of personal financial planning.

"It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money - for both men and women," she said.

Britt conducted the study using longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households.

"In the study, we controlled for income, debt and net worth. Results revealed it didn't matter how much you made or how much you were worth. Arguments about money are the top predictor for divorce because it happens at all levels," Britt said.

It takes longer to recover from money arguments than any other kind of argument, according to Britt, and such arguments are more intense. Couples often use harsher language with each other, and the argument lasts longer.

"You can measure people's money arguments when they are very first married," Britt said.

"It doesn't matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and already arguing about money, there is a good chance they are going to have poor relationship satisfaction," she said.

By continuing to have financial arguments, couples decrease their relationship satisfaction, Britt said. Even if divorce is not a possibility because of low income, the low relationship satisfaction could make matters worse.

Aside from a negative effect on children, increased stress leads to a further decrease in financial planning that could help better the situation.

The study is published in the journal Family Relations.

First Published: Sun, July 14 2013. 15:15 IST