Money isn’t the root of all arguments in relationships, but it comes close. David Roberts, manager for mediation services at Relationships Australia, says money pressures are one of the top four reasons that couples separate. US research has found it is the No. 1 issue that married couples argue about and the second most common cause of divorce after infidelity.
Debt is a common source of arguments, along with secret spending and budgetary pressures such as paying bills.
Kirsty Lamont, director of the comparison site Mozo, says research by her company found around a third of people in relationships fight about money at least once a month. “Some of the things they get most upset about are their partner’s inability to manage a budget, wasting money on things like smoking and gambling, and lying about money,” she says.
A recent Westpac survey on finance and separation found that almost 70% of separated couples who rarely spoke about their finances were not in a financially healthy position. It says more than a third of Australians who live in a committed relationship are not financially healthy as a couple.
Income inequality, where one partner earns significantly more than the other, can exacerbate problems by introducing a power imbalance into the relationship. This can even degenerate into financial “abuse” where the partner who wields financial power uses it to control their partner.
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