Surveys show that money is one of the biggest—often the biggest—issue that couples fight about.
It's natural you'll have some disagreements with your partner over finances from time to time. But if you find yourselves always in battle, it could be a sign that your relationship has problems—or that it will soon.
Arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce, according to a study based on longitudinal data from the National Survey of Families and Households. Researchers found that this was true regardless of income, net worth, or debt.
Consider these five signs that money issues could be threatening your relationship, but realize that financial disagreements don't have to mean the end for you. There are ways to work through these issues once you identify them.
1. You Disagree With Each Other's Decisions
If you constantly find yourself justifying purchases to each other, or arguing over whether a certain purchase is worth it or not, it could be a sign you're not on the same page in terms of spending priorities.
It's one thing if you disagree occasionally—all couples do. It's another if you feel like no matter what you do with your money, your decisions will chronically lead to a fight.
2. Your Spending Styles Are Totally Different
Your partner is a shopaholic who owns 40 pairs of shoes and can spend the entire day at the mall. You're a "penny saved is a penny earned" type of person who'd rather eat leftover Ramen for dinner than go one dollar over your monthly grocery budget.
While it is possible for opposites to attract—and eventually reach some sort of compromise that works for them—just know that you've got some work to do if your money mindsets are total opposites. To achieve peace, start by being open to understanding where the other person is coming from, without any judgment.
3. You're Keeping Secrets From Each Other
You haven't told your spouse that you're $20,000 in debt. Your spouse hasn't told you that they paid $1,000 for that new gadget rather than the $100 they initially claimed to have spent.
These kinds of financial infidelities can have a lasting impact on the health of a relationship. No matter how big or small, keeping secrets from each other is a red flag you've got some trust issues. A strong relationship will be able to get past mistakes and other hurdles, but it's hard to come back from a breach of trust.
One-third of people who fight with their partners about money reported that they have hidden a purchase from them because they feared disapproval.
4. One of You Pays Way More Often
You don’t have to split bills 50/50 all the time—in fact, if your incomes are wildly different, a 50/50 arrangement might not make sense. And you don't have to diligently track of who paid for what, down to the dollar.
But you should both feel that overall, you're each paying your fair share of your joint expenses, whether it's for dinners out or household bills. If one person works and the other stays at home with children, you should both feel as though you're contributing equally to running the overall household. An imbalance can lead to resentment.
5. You Can't Talk Money Without Getting Angry
Money can be a touchy subject, one that can bring some emotional baggage with it. But if you're not able to talk about it with your partner calmly and rationally—or if you're not able to talk about it at all—it could signal deeper issues in your relationship.
Money is a big part of sharing your life with someone, and if you can't discuss it with each other, you're bound for trouble. How else will you be able to work toward joint financial goals, or identify what those goals are in the first place if you're not open to talking about it?
In this case, seeking professional help might be your best bet for developing a better relationship with your finances and ultimately, with each other.