Perception of high spending causes relationship conflict, even it's if untrue


If a person believes their spouse spends too much money, the chances are it will cause conflict and tension, even if that perception is not true.

That’s the findings of a new study by American researchers.

It’s more common for men to think their female partners are overspending and the researchers say, as a result, the husbands are more likely to start quarrels about money with their spouses.

These findings held up regardless of the couple’s level of income, or whether or not they actually had spent a lot of money.

Study co-author Ashley LeBaron is a graduate student at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah. She explained that “spouses’ perceptions of each other’s spending behaviours were so predictive of financial conflict” that it led the researchers to believe “perceptions may be just as important, if not more important, than reality” when it comes to issues involving money within relationships.

Co-author, Sonya Britt-Lutter, an associate professor at Kansas State University, urged couples to “communicate about finances, especially early” in marriage or relationships and warned them not to believe that “financial problems will magically go away when circumstances change”.

The results of this study demonstrate that “circumstances weren’t the issue … perception was, and perception doesn’t always change when circumstances do”.

This sentiment was supported by BYU Family Life professor Jeffrey Hill, another co-author. He explained that in order to resolve these conflicts “couples can benefit from clinical help, whether that be a financial planner or a marriage and family therapist”.

The researchers gathered data from BYU’s ‘Flourishing Families Project’, which has monitored around 700 families since its inception in 2007.

The study was published in the academic Journal of Financial Planning.


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