So why then is money often touted as the number one thing that couples fight
about – a key contributor to our 41% divorce rate?
Depending upon the study, there is a large variance in the statistics quoted as to what degree couples argue about money. In my somewhat unscientific aggregation of these stats, most figures tend to stand at more than one-half. So is that to say that at least one-half of the 41% Canadian divorce rate – or about 1 in 5 of our divorces – are caused primarily by money?
A study by Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University found that couples who fight
about money once a week are 30% more likely to end up divorced than those who
disagree over money only a few times a month.
Of further interest, wives who were upset about finances or sex were most
likely to end up divorced. Apparently, sex doesn’t matter to husbands – fighting
about money was the only disagreement that was highly correlated with divorce in
According to a 2004 study by SmartMoney Magazine, the top six money
arguments that couples have are about merging their money, dealing with debts,
budgeting, how to best invest, money secrets and planning for emergencies.
As a financial planner, I sometimes feel more like a money therapist. When
you talk to people about how to manage their money, it becomes clear that money
arguments between couples aren’t really about money after all but about the
pursuit of happiness.
If there’s one piece of advice that I can give to couples, young or old, it’s
to make life choices that will allow and enable as much flexibility so as to
pursue happiness, whatever that means for you. Paint the picture that is your
life first and foremost and then plan your finances as a secondary exercise.