Keep your relationship from going in the red

Every month, Sarah Abell invites you to try a 30-day experiment to improve your love life


Keep your relationship from going in the red

The project

What do you argue most about?

A) finances,

B) the state of the house or

C) how much sex you are or aren’t having?

If you answered A, be warned: couples who regularly row about money are more likely to split up than those who fight about any other topic. Sonya Britt, from Kansas State University, looked at data from 4,500 couples and found arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce.

The aim

Improve your communication around finances if you want to decrease your likelihood of splitting up. Becoming financially savvy and cosying up with your budget could prevent your relationship from going into the red.

The theory

Britt’s study ‘Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce’ found that it takes longer to recover from money arguments and they tend to be more intense. Couples often use harsher language and the row lasts longer than when fighting about other topics such as children, in-laws or sex.

‘You can measure people’s money rows from when they are very first married,’ says Britt. ‘It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, but when they were first together and if they were already arguing about money, there was a good chance they were going to have poor relationship satisfaction.’ Britt believes that the solution is to reduce your stress with financial planning. ‘People who are stressed only focus on the short term, they don’t plan for the future. If you can reduce stress, you can increase planning.’

Try it out

  • Review your finances together. Take an honest look at your spending, saving and giving. Talk about what works and what doesn’t.
  • Set a goal. Think about one joint financial goal that you’d like to achieve this year and how you might reach it. Choose one and give it a go.
  • Identify financial personalities. Are you a saver or a spender? Talk about what you think made you that way and discuss how it affects your attitude to money. If you’re different, focus on the advantages of your partner’s personality and how this could benefit you as a couple.
  • Get help. If you’re struggling with a mess you really can’t fix, seek some financial advice.

Sarah Abell is a relationships coach and the author of Inside Out – How To Build Authentic Relationships With Everyone In Your Life (Hodder, £8.99). Find out more at To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.

More inspiration:

Read Happiness comes from giving, not buying or having by Dr Steve Taylor on LifeLabs

Photograph: plainpicture/Cultura


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