Few people go into a marriage expecting that it will end in divorce. In fact, the oft-repeated “50 percent divorce rate” statistic isn’t entirely accurate—more recent research suggests the percentage of couples who divorce is now closer to 39 percent.
And while it’s possible for an affair or other shocking transgression to end your relationship study, recent research suggests there’s actually one factor in marriages that is a solid predictor of a future divorce. Read on to discover which common argument could mean you and your spouse are twice as likely to divorce.
While finances are a frequent source of conflict, even in happy relationships, a recent study suggests that they’re a major predictor of divorce, too.
According to a 2021 study published in The Economic Journal, couples who disagree about financial matters are twice as likely to divorce as those on the same page about their finances. In fact, among the attitudes toward risk studied, not being on the same page about financial risks was the strongest predictor of divorce.
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While your willingness to take financial risks may cause discord in the early stages of your relationship, the study’s authors found that couples frequently became more alike in terms of their risk aversion or lack thereof over time.
“Preference assimilation could be a mechanism for resolving conflict within marriages,” explained study author Marta Serra-Garcia, PhD, an associate professor of economics and strategy at the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management, in a statement. “As a result, these couples have a stronger likelihood of staying together.”
It’s not just divorce that financial discord may predict, however.
According to the study’s authors, people with different risk styles in terms of finances were also less likely to own a home together or renovate a home if they did purchase one.
While there’s no definitive way to predict how someone will behave in the context of a marriage, the study’s researchers proposed that meeting a potential mate online could help mitigate some of these issues.
“If such websites would provide suggestions as to who would be an ideal match, suggesting matches between individuals who are similar in their risk attitudes would decrease the likelihood that, if a couple forms, it will dissolve in the future,” the study’s authors explain.