Love and Finances Is money a romance killer?

Many relationships break up because of quarrels about money, says psychology professor Guy Bodenmann – and provides a different approach.

by Bernhard Raos 28 Sep 2016
What is mine and what is yours? In a relationship there shouldn’t be any taboos. Image: iStock

It didn’t use to be an issue: You tied the knot because of money. Today romantic reasons prevail. Still, Guy Bodenmann, a psychology professor at the University of Zurich and developer of the Paarlife program, stresses: “If you love your partner you should talk about money.” Even if it demands quite an effort. “Sometimes it is harder to talk about finances than feelings.“ Couples should discuss all the important issues at an early stage. Bodenmann says: “You need transparency in financial matters and financial needs, fair rules that apply to both partners, and an equal say in what money is spent on.”

Too much is unhealthy

Money is seen as a romance killer. Bodenmann’s investigations have revealed that the only things that couples fight more about than money are jealousy, the children, and the division of labor in the household. Both having too little money, as well as too much, can lead to tension. One thing is clear: if one person spends large amounts without consulting the other, domestic bliss will be short-lived. Your partner should be consulted before making any major purchases.

Trust or prenuptial agreement?

Is it better to have joint or separate accounts? “Couples have to work it out for themselves. A mix of both can also be sensible – where they keep their own accounts and have a joint account for common expenses like the rent,” says Catherine Rukavina, a financial planner at UBS. “Even if a woman doesn’t have a job, she should have her own account,” Rukavina recommends. It is important for her self-esteem. While there are women who don’t have a bank account, she has never come across a man without an account …

Nearly every second marriage ends in divorce. So are couples well-advised to regulate every financial detail? Bodenmann cites the statistics: Couples who have agreed to a separation of property often divorce later on. “If you fix the finances by contract in advance, it may offer some security – but it shows little confidence in a common future.” How much money you have determines your standard of living, but it can’t dictate whether you’ll have a happy and stable relationship.


Put love before money

No taboos. Talk with your partner early and openly about how you want to handle the finances.

Equal say. Don’t make any major purchases without discussing these with your partner.

Roles. Talk about who does what in the household. This is especially important when you have children.

Privacy. Each partner should have a separate account.

Generosity. Gift-giving pays dividends in a relationship.