For richer or poorer: Money causes conflicts for couples

Seventy percent of American couples have had a disagreement with their partner about finances in the past year, resulting in problems in their relationships, according to recent research by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

“If left ignored, financial stressors can tear through a relationship and ruin more than just your bank balances,” said Gregory Anton, chairman of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “It’s important to talk and have a strong sense of financial familiarity in a relationship. When you share your money values and set joint-financial goals together, you help set your relationship up for success.”

The survey found that disagreements about finances usually revolve around needs versus wants, spending priorities, and making purchases without discussing them first. Paying off debt and saving for larger purchases round out the top five.

Only 56 percent of married or cohabitating Americans said they are “very comfortable” talking to their partner about finances. Lack of communication and financial problems are both common issues that contribute to divorce. Couples looking for help strengthening their financial compatibility can visit

Financial infidelity is enough for some couples to throw in the towel, whether it’s a large amount of debt, assets that have been hidden, or a secret bank account. The survey found that 41 percent of Americans who are married or living with their partner would be at least somewhat likely to end their relationship if they discovered their partner was dishonest about their finances.

Older adults (65 and over) are least likely to end their relationship over financial infidelity; younger adults are most likely.

Throughout 2021, AICPA will explore the impact of COVID-19 on consumers, businesses and the accounting and finance profession through a series of surveys and reports, Anton said.