KSU Professor Talks Top Predictor For Divorce, Gives Advice

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- In every relationship, couples can face a number of different issues that may make or break their bond.

But is there one topic in particular- children, sex, in-laws, household chores- that can put an end to a once happy union and lead to divorce?

"Arguments about money are more detrimental to the relationship than any other type of argument," said Sonya Britt, K-State assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning. "Couples are using more harsh language with each other and the issue remains unresolved for a longer period of time and it can have more strain on the children in the relationship."

Using data from thousands of interviews with couples from across the country about the things they argue about, Britt found that by far, arguments about money were the most highly predictive of divorce for both men and woman and also the top predictor for relationship satisfaction. Results revealed it didn't matter how much you made or how much you were worth.

"I think that’s highly related to money being such a pivotal aspect of daily living because you can’t live without money. So there are a lot of values tied to money, there are a lot of power issues," she said. "You can look at a couple who just recently got together and if they’re arguing about money, good chance is their relationship satisfaction is going to be lower down the road."

And hard economic times aren’t helping. Britt says some couples reported lots of strain when one or both of them had to take mandatory reductions in pay or hours or had to face furloughs or lay offs. They still have the same expenses but with less income.

"I think you can see this especially in economic bad times, that couples are having a lot of arguments about money and they’re just having this really horrible relationship satisfaction but they’re not willing to get divorced because that’s going to cause further financial difficulties. So you have these couples who are living in poor relationships just they feel that there is no way out because of the financial reasons," she told WIBW.

Britt advises new couples to seek a financial planner as part of premarital counseling, pull each other's credit reports and talk through how to handle finances fairly for both individuals. To find a local accredited financial counselor go to The Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education website, http://members.afcpe.org/search . On the site consumers may search for a counselor by entering their zip code.

Britt recommends http://www.creditkarma.com which offers free access to credit scores, a grade based on age and notification emails if the score changes.

"Get everything out on the table. Look at each other’s credit reports to see how much debt each partner has and who is going to repay the debt, if it’s my student loan should I expect my spouse to help repay that student loan? If I owe back child support, should my spouse pay for that or is that something I’m responsible for," she said.

"You have a right to know what the other person’s financial status is. Once you are committed and maybe sharing some expenses, I think it’s a good idea to have a grasp on what each other’s debt levels are," she added.

If you’re wondering what other argument topics also led to relationship woes, Britt said number two on the list for men were fights about sex and number two on the list for women were disagreements over household chores.


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