Apparently nothing kills love like money.
"Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce," said Sony Britt, a researcher at Kansas State University in Manhattan. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money – for both men and women."
Britt conducted a study using longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. The study, "Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce," has been published in Family Relations, an interdisciplinary journal of applied family studies.
"In the study, we controlled for income, debt and net worth," said Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning at KSU. "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."
Another study by TD Ameritrade released earlier this year also found that money is the most common reason that couples fight.
Britt’s research found that it takes longer to recover from money arguments than any other kind of argument 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."
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.
"We, as financial planners, can help clients reduce their stress through education," Britt said. "This is important because people who are stressed are very short-term focused. They don't plan for the future. If you can reduce stress, you can increase planning."
Britt advises new couples to seek a financial planner as part of premarital counseling, pull each other's credit reports and talk through how to handle finances fairly for both individuals.