Since the start of the pandemic, couples that live together have been forced to live and interact with each other far more often — sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. In many cases, the drastic change in a couple’s living situation intensifies or aggravates other problems.
A new survey published by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found that 47% of married or cohabitating couples had experienced intimacy issues as a result of financial tension in their relationship. And it seems that the pandemic has only thrown these problems into greater relief.
COVID-19 making many financial disagreements worse
Almost 3 in 4 (73%) of American cohabitating couples, whether married or not, said that financial issues had caused tension at some point in their relationship.
Within this group, 69% reported having money disagreements over the past year alone. And among those who said financial tensions were an issue, 34% said the problem had become more common since the start of the pandemic.
In fact, 26% of the couples said finances caused tension in their relationship at least once a month.
The biggest reasons for these disagreements included …
- A partner’s financial needs and wants (36%)
- Spending priorities (28%)
- Purchases made without prior discussion with the other partner (22%)
Money tensions more likely for couples with children
The survey found that, since the start of the pandemic, couples with children have experienced money-driven tension in their relationships at about double the rate of those without children.
Specifically, 47% of parent couples said financial decisions caused issues in their relationships more frequently since the pandemic began, compared with 22% of non-parent couples.
Likewise, 60% of couples with children reported money problems as hurting their intimacy, versus the 34% of couples without children at home.
The findings are similar to other recent studies showing parents under extra stress from the COVID-19 outbreak, though relationships among non-parents have suffered, too. In fact, many report having postponed marriage because of the pandemic.
Try to talk it out
According to the AICPA survey, only just over a half (56%) of couples that live together were comfortable discussing their finances with their partner. This can present challenges down the road, as financial issues and a lack of communication are two factors known to put a huge strain in relationships.
"Talking about money can certainly be uncomfortable, but candid discussions about your financial situation and goals are critical," AICPA Financial Literacy Commission member David Almonte said in a statement.
"Both personal and financial benefits can come from scheduling regular financial check-ins with your partner," Almonte said. "Discussing a shared financial outlook will not only bring you closer to your joint-financial goals, but can help to bring you closer together as a couple as well."
Methodology:The AICPA survey was conducted by the Harris Poll during Jan. 13-15, 2021. It received responses from 2,040 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,157 were married or living with a partner.