Why couples fight about money

Why couples fight about money
Talking about money doesn’t have to be tense.
Credit: Getty Images

Yet another study about couples and their money has found (drrrrrum roll) that many people aren’t feelin’ the love when it comes to their finances.

That may not be surprising, given how often most couples squabble over money. But a new study from Fidelity Investments points to a more baffling gap between partners.

* On the one hand, 81% of couples describe themselves as “one financial entity” and 92% say they’re good financial communicators.

* Yet 55% of couples admit that they don’t make day-to-day decisions jointly, and only 28% are completely confident that either partner is ready to assume responsibility for their joint retirement finances (that would be 72% who aren’t so sure).

But rather than read these survey results as more details on couple’s money fights, I think this survey reveals a deeper contradiction that many couples never address.

Divide and conquer

For years now, women have been making advances in education and earning power that are giving them greater economic clout. According to the Census Bureau, more women are earning college and graduate degrees, compared to men, putting themselves on a higher-earning trajectory. One recent study found that women were the primary earners in 40% of households.

Yet many women still don’t have money management skills or confidence, and they’re often not as financially involved at home: Some 24% of women in this survey say they have the primary responsibility for the day-to-day finances, but only 19% say that about retirement planning.

Does this make women a liability—or put men in a smarter, stronger financial position? Not all, as men’s responses likely reflect the male tendency to express overconfidence in their abilities (a common flaw, especially in the financial realm).

Wearing new hats (or pants)

Here’s the real problem: Although clearly most couples want to be united on the money front, the reality is that most of us are dealing with an uneven distribution of skills, outdated perceptions, and gender role hangovers. In most surveys, as in this one, women tend to identify themselves as the chief household budgeters; men tend to identify as the long-term planners and investors. (The Fidelity survey didn’t explore same-sex partnerships.)

But these are simply the default roles for many couples when it comes to money.

As men’s and women’s capabilities and interests shift, it’s essential for individual couples to identify which partner, really, is the best equipped to rein in the grocery budget or manage the 401k, rather than default to pre-existing conditions or belief systems. That’s a more open-minded, flexible starting point for making successful financial plans—together.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Subway riders call for fair fares on G…

Subway riders, activists and elected officials called on the MTA Wednesday to continue to offer riders a free transfer between the Broadway G train and the Lorimer stop of the…

Local

Marshals, cops arrest fugitive after shootout in Queens

Federal authorities arrested a fugitive hiding out in Queens after he shot at U.S. Marshals and officers with the New York City Police Department.

Breaking: National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

Music

Tiesto headlines Made in America

Electronic music legend Tiesto is ready to get in touch with his inner Rocky at the Jay Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival this weekend…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.