The 12 biggest money-related reasons people get divorced
- Money-related issues are frequently cited as a reason for divorce.
- We asked experts to name the biggest money-related reasons couples get divorced.
- They include mismatched financial priorities, unexpected major expenses, and discovering a partner's secret spending.
- Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.
Money is the No. 1 thing couples argue about.
So it's no surprise that money-related conflicts are frequently cited as a reason for divorce.
There's a good reason for this: Money and stress very often go hand in hand, whether it's because of an overextended budget, an unexpected financial emergency, or even the discovery of your spouse's secret credit card. And financial issues don't discriminate - they can unravel marriages between wealthy couples and couples in major debt alike.
We reached out to a range of experts, from matchmakers to financial planners, to find which money-related matters are most frequently causes for divorce.
Here are the financial issues that are tearing couples apart.
Opposing attitudes toward money
It's important to talk about your financial situation before getting married, but few couples actually take the time to really understand each other's views on spending and saving.
"Unfortunately, this can cause frivolous fights between two people who have completely opposite views toward money," Andrea Woroch, a personal finance writer, told Business Insider.
"If one partner spends without thought and the other frantically saves every penny, there's bound to be tension. The spender may feel that his or her partner is constantly nagging and cheap, while the saver may feel vulnerable to the effects of overindulging."
Mismatched financial priorities
It's important to identify financial priorities before getting married, as it can become a point of contention if the partners aren't on the same page.
"If you don't identify major shared goals - like buying a home or traveling to an exotic new place - it can create problems down the line, since you won't be working simultaneously to save toward the same goals," Woroch said.
Credit card debt
A friend had a spouse with huge credit debt – and who took out a loan against a home on top of that, Becca Hoeft, chief brand officer of Sunrise Banks, told Business Insider.
The spouse worked overtime, for years, to pay down the debt – only to have the mate rack up another huge pile of debt.
"Severe credit card debt is a sure fire way to inadvertently schedule divorce proceedings."
Just like the sexual kind, financial infidelity can have devastating consequences on trust and honesty - the cornerstones of any marriage, Woroch said.
Examples of financial infidelity include secret bank accounts, undisclosed debt, hidden purchases, or gambling addictions.
"Financial infidelity may occur after years of built-up financial tension in a marriage or as a result of poor communication and different dreams," Woroch said. "In other times, it could come from a deep-rooted emotional issue that needs to be addressed. Seeking marital counseling may help couples overcome these issues as long as both partners are willing to work on it."
Overextending their budgets
When two people get married and combine incomes, they may feel financially powerful, but then make a series of poor purchasing and spending decisions that put them into debt, regardless of how much money they're making.
This can put a serious strain on a relationship.
People with big incomes often in debt because they tend to spend more of what they make, Woroch said.
"The biggest example is buying too much house. If most of your monthly income is going toward affording your dream home, then you have little flexibility to enjoy other activities or outings that you and your partner enjoyed doing together, like traveling."
Woroch suggests that whether you're taking on a mortgage or renting a home, aim to spend no more than 25% of your combined take-home pay on this monthly expense.
"This gives you more flexibility in your lifestyle and alleviates the financial tension with your spouse," she said.
Inability to compromise on spending
Although it may be impossible to ever get on the exact same page, learning how to make compromises is key to keeping a healthy and happy marriage.
Not recognising this is the downfall of many couples, Woroch said.
"For instance, maybe you don't want to spend money on going out to eat all the time as your partner would want, but giving some room in your budget for the occasional date night can make both of you happy," she said.
Major impulse buys
Whether you're in a comfortable financial situation or in a dire one, most couples would agree that major buys should be done as a couple.
"When someone comes home with a new car that you didn't need or want, for example, and leaves their spouse out of large financial decisions, that's a quick recipe to kill a marriage," Hoeft said.
Stress from combining bank accounts
Remember, you do not have to combine your assets in a marriage - it's a choice. Sometimes it's a good choice, and other times it's not.
"Depending on your circumstances, there may be significant tax and financial advantages to maintaining separate accountants," Calvin Harris Jr., chief financial officer at Baltimore City Community College, told Business Insider.
"Personally, I'm a fan of three bank accounts: one for you, one for me, and one for us. Big arguments have occurred when one spouse spends too much money in the combined accounts. By having three accounts, you can minimise those types of conflicts."
Unexpected major expenses
Another cause of divorce is stress and disagreements over major unexpected expenses.
These could include caring for an elderly relative, medical emergencies, major home repairs, or unplanned travel. It could also include child-related expenses that weren't agreed on by both parties.
"If there's not an agreement on schooling - private versus public, for example - or whether you will be hiring an expensive nanny to help, these financial stresses can easily lead to divorce," Bonnie Winston, matchmaker and relationship expert, told Business Insider.
Spending too much on the wedding
You may deserve a great wedding, but you also deserve a great married financial life after the wedding.
"If you both choose to spend so much on the wedding that you can't afford the home you want afterwards - and you are both willing to live with that decision - then fine. But you have to go into the situation with your eyes open to avoid serious conflict after the wedding," Harris said.
Not having pre-marriage financial counselling
When couples plan for their wedding, many couples have pre-marriage counselling from a religious leader.
"Couples should also talk to someone for pre-marriage financial counselling," Harris said.
Specifically, he recommended that before getting married, you meet with a qualified certified public accountant, tax attorney, or licensed financial advisor.
"Your goal is to have an impartial person advise you both on how to have a successful financial marriage," he said.
Loss of financial control
Issues of financial control can surface in a couple of ways, Leslie Thompson, managing principal at Spectrum Management Group, told Business Insider.
The most common, she said, is when a woman is made to feel marginalised because of her perceived lack of contribution or influence in building family wealth.
"I often see this in higher net-worth situations, because women tend to focus their work efforts on family and promoting the career of their spouse," Thompson said. "When the spouse has 'made it' mid-to-late career, and more than likely the children are grown, conflict over what is mine versus ours is prevalent, and often prevalent throughout the entire marriage."
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