Think infidelity is the number one cause for divorce? Think again. As it turns out, money is one of the top triggers for spousal splits. In fact, research shows that arguing about money is the primary predictor of divorce. Regardless of their income range, debt or net worth, couples who argue about cash early in their relationship are more likely to get divorced. And it’s not a lack of money that causes the breakdown of a marriage—it’s often the squabbles over poor financial habits. So unless you want to take a wrecking ball to your wedded bliss, avoid these 15 bad money habits like the plague. #1: Keeping Money Secrets from Your Spouse Do you have a secret cash stash tucked away where your spouse can’t find it? Have you made an expensive purchase you’re hiding from your partner? Bad move. In a TD Bank survey of more than 1,900 partners, 90% of respondents who described themselves as happy in their relationships said they were not keeping any money secrets. To top it off, one in 10 respondents said they'd consider splitting up with their partner if they learned they were keeping a financial secret.
If you don’t talk about money with your partner, all your financial problems will just disappear…right? Wrong. Many couples avoid discussing their finances because it causes tension. However, arguing about money is better than not talking about it all. Marriage counselors say couples should discuss money weekly or at least monthly so they can plan ahead for financial goals.
The Beatles had it right all along—you simply can’t buy love. So if you think splurging on some icy bling or a fancy new car for your spouse will fix all your problems, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, making large purchases you can’t truly afford will only cause more friction in your marriage. Why? Because it leads to debt. Which brings us to our next bad habit…
According to an American Psychological Association Report, more than three-quarters of Americans admit money is a significant source of stress in their lives. What’s the biggest cause of this financial pressure? Debt. This isn’t surprising considering that the total outstanding consumer debt in the U.S. is a whopping $3.4 trillion. If you want to give your marriage a fighting chance, focus on paying down any debts you have—and whatever you do, don’t take on additional debt.
In a marriage, there is typically one person who sets the budget and writes the checks—and that’s perfectly fine. However, it’s not okay for one spouse to be left completely in the dark when it comes to your finances. It’s important for both partners to give their two cents on money decisions and set short and long-term financial goals together.
If you’re making pricey purchases in your partner’s name, cut it out. One of the quickest ways to destroy a marriage is to ruin your spouse’s credit. On the flip side, if your spouse is causing this type of fiscal abuse to you, don’t turn a blind eye. Put an end to this monstrous money behavior immediately. If you don’t take action now, you’ll be left with an avalanche of bills and a rock-bottom credit score—not to mention a divorce.
Let’s say your spouse earns more money than you—a LOT more. Guess what? You still deserve a say in your collective financial goals. Even if you’re a stay-at-home parent and your partner brings home all the bacon, this doesn’t mean you don’t get to weigh in on money matters. This horrible habit can lead to major relationship resentment and eventually cause a marriage meltdown. Don’t do it.
Are you and your partner floating through life without a financial plan, tossing your dollars around willy-nilly? If so, your marriage is sitting on a powder keg. If you want your partnership to survive, it’s critical to map out a long-term financial plan together. Financially speaking, where you do want to be in ten or 20 years? What is your stance on retirement, home buying, saving vs. spending? You may disagree on some points, but it’s important to find common ground, set goals and stick with the plan. Your marriage depends on it.
We all had unique childhood experiences that shaped our views of the world—including money. For instance, let’s say your partner grew up underprivileged. As a result, he or she may be a penny pincher. On the other hand, maybe you were raised in a wealthy family and expect a luxurious lifestyle. Even if you have wildly different views on money, try to find some common financial ground and set goals together. Whatever you do, don’t mock your partner’s money mindset or allow them to make fun of you. This type of ridicule will quickly erode a marriage.
Obviously, it’s okay to splurge your son or daughter every now and then. But let’s say you regularly buy expensive items for your children and swear them to secrecy, making them promise not to tell the other parent. Not only are you doing your child a huge disservice by teaching them an awful money habit. You’re also keeping financial secrets from your spouse, which can tear your family apart.
Obviously, it’s important for couples to set financial goals and stick to a budget. However, there is such a thing as too many money rules. If a spouse feels stifled by an overly restrictive budget, this can lead to money secrets and other financial problems. Again, this is why talking about money is crucial. If you’re feeling shackled by a strict budget, have a chat with your partner about making some adjustments.
Studies show that vacations aren’t just good for your health and productivity levels—they’re also good for your marriage. Of course, we all know vacations aren’t cheap. If you’re already stretched financially thin, the worst thing you can do is plan a last-minute getaway and charge it to your credit card. If you want to enjoy a truly relaxing couple’s retreat, save up for the vacation ahead of time. According to one study, couples who didn’t budget for vacations reported lower levels of happiness than those who did.
You may think joint bank accounts are for overly controlling spouses—but you would be wrong. In fact, sharing money in a joint account is one of the healthiest things you can do for your marriage. Not only is this the ultimate sign of financial trust, but is also ensures neither partner is sweeping money secrets under the rug. According to the TD Bank survey, 86% of respondents who said they were happy in their relationships shared at least some of their money with their partner.
If you’re considering lending money to your brother or borrowing some from your sister, just don’t. This is a terrible decision that will put a major strain on your marriage. Why? Because it combines two of the most contentious issues in any relationship: money and in-laws. When it comes to lending or borrowing, the fewer family members involved the better.
If you or your partner has a gambling problem, you are at an incredibly high risk for divorce. According to a Medline Plus study, compulsive gamblers may suffer from depression and anxiety—two disorders that can be toxic to a marriage. Even worse, the rate of domestic violence is higher in families with pathological gamblers, and gambling addiction often leads to bankruptcy. If you or your spouse is addicted to gambling, seek professional help immediately.