Divorce Study: Financial Arguments Early In Relationship May Predict Divorce

07/12/2013 04:29 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2013
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Arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce, according to Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher.

On Friday, she shed light on her research, which found that couples who argued about money early in their relationships -- regardless of their income, debt or net worth -- were at a greater risk for divorce.

"Arguments about money [are] by far the top predictor of divorce," she said. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money -- for both men and women."

The study, titled "Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce" and published in 2012 in Family Relations journal, looked at longitudinal data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households.

The research also concluded that arguments about money were longer and usually more intense than other types of marital disagreements.

"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," Britt said.

But why does this type of argument in particular cause a rift between couples? Co-author Jeffrey Dew speculated that fights about money may actually be indicative of deeper issues or stressors in the relationship.

"It may be that fights about money are actually fights about deeper issues in the relationship -- power, trust, etc. If these deep issues in the relationship are problematic, then these couples may be more likely to divorce," he said in an e-mail to Huffington Post Divorce. "[Or] it may be that couples are fighting about money because they are experiencing negative financial events (like a job loss). The stress that accompanies financial problems may overwhelm the couples."

Arguments about money may also stem from couples' deeply help beliefs about the purpose of money, Dew said.

"We all have deeply held beliefs about the best way to use money (e.g., use money for status, use money for security, etc.) Often these beliefs come from the family in which we grew up," he said. "Sometimes spouses' beliefs differ and so they come into conflict. You might imagine a spouse who feels that money is best used for status married to someone who feels that money is best used for security. This couple would then probably have more conflict."

This isn't the first time a link has been found between divorce and finances. In September 2011, researchers at the University of Missouri found that couples who receive government assistance are more likely to split.

Click through the slideshow below for even more surprising divorce research.

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