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In a study by researchers at the Kansas State University in 2013, money is the key factor in marriage breakdowns. “Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce,” said Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning. Britt and her team conducted a study with over 4,500 married couples for over 10 years, and found that “couples decrease their marriage satisfaction by arguing over money.”
Here, the issues to look out for, and how to get around it.
Different spending habits
Your spending habits may stem from several circumstances including your family’s approach to money, your upbringing, and while you may be okay with being with a partner who splurges on branded goods and other luxury items while you’re more practical with your money, you’ll need to put in a lot more effort in making the relationship work.
This issue may not seem as apparent while you’re in a relationship, but it may rear its ugly head after marriage, especially if you’re both contributing to a joint bank account, and have pressing expenses to take care of.
Before this escalates, see if there’re areas you both can compromise on. You’ll also need to understand each other’s attitudes towards money, to see where you and your partner are coming from.
Different priorities in big-ticket spending
You may prefer to spend more money on the house, while she might want to splurge on a nice holiday. Before you both turn this into a full-blown argument, try and see things from the other person’s perspective. In an article by the Wall Street Journal in April 2015, “such a conflict over big-ticket expenditures may arise because each spouse hears the same words, but interprets them differently.”
Avoid disputes by being transparent in your purchases, especially things like big-ticket items. Credit card debt or debts occurred from bad investments are also something to bring up to your partner, especially if you both are looking at plans for the future.
One earns much more than the other
Despite all that talk about female empowerment in Singapore, a not insignificant number of guys we’ve spoken to have mentioned that they might feel a bit uncomfortable dating a woman who earns much more than them, or who is much more successful in their career.
The fact is, in many ways we’re still a pretty primitive society, and many guys still feel that the onus to support the family (and buy that HDB flat, blah blah) is on them. In addition, women who are very career-minded and buy lots of expensive designer items are often viewed as too high maintenance and therefore intimidating.
On the flipside, when men get retrenched from their jobs, their wives tend to feel more consternation than if the reverse were to happen. Few women like to slog it out at the office while their husbands play DOTA at home.
Here in Singapore, people work hard for their money, putting in long hours at the office and enjoying work-life balance that is, compared to other nations worldwide, quite terrible.
Spending long hours at the office and all-round workaholism can take its toll on relationships, especially after the initial afterglow has faded.
Bernard, a 30-year-old lawyer, reveals that affairs between married senior lawyers and their colleagues are common at the large firm where he works.
“My boss is married to his work. He’s at the office until at least 10pm most nights, and being a workaholic he stays back late even more than he has to. It’s an open secret that he’s having an affair with his secretary,” he says.
Even if your partner is the honest kind, spending too much time at the office can take its toll by robbing you of quality time you could have spent with your partner.
(Names have been changed to protect the identity of respondents)
Part of this post appeared first on the MoneySmart blog. MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal that helps you to maximize your money. Like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest news and articles. Compare and shop for the best deals on Loans, Insurance and Credit Cards on our site now!