Is the economy ruining your marriage?

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By George Mannes, Money Magazine senior writer

Question 2: It's been a tough year. The value of your home and your portfolio are way down (even after the recent surge in stock prices), and the payments on the big home-equity loan you took to buy that new motorboat are starting to feel out of reach. Which of the financial issues you face is putting the greatest strain on your marriage?

A. Your plummeting portfolio.

B. Your eroding home equity.

C. Those oversize loan payments.

D. Trick question. They're all stressful -- duh! There's no way to rank this kind of financial pain.

Answer: C. Sure, a sharp decline in the value of your most important assets can easily put a damper on your relationship -- it's depressing, after all, to watch your savings shrink, and depression doesn't exactly put you in the mood for love.

But studies by Utah State University professor Jeff Dew show that so-called bad debt, such as balances on credit cards or installment loans, has a much more direct effect on marital happiness than issues with assets, and the impact is largely negative: The more bad debt a couple have, the more likely they are to argue and the less likely they are to be satisfied with their marriage.

By contrast, "good debt" -- such as student loans or mortgage payments -- doesn't seem to affect how they feel about each other. And while having more savings and investments can certainly help alleviate feelings of economic pressure, it doesn't stop the fighting.

So if you're looking to improve the state of your union, the course is clear: Pare down on the amount you owe.

Feel free to reward yourself along the way -- say, a small dinner out to compensate yourself for all the ones you've skipped. Or be silly -- put stars on the refrigerator, just like you got for your third-grade homework.

"It marks and commemorates that you did it together," says Lili Vasileff, president of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners. That way you can enjoy a pat on the back while you whittle down your debt -- for a double dose of marital contentment.

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Most 'one percent' moments of 2014 This year was all about more money, more problems. Here's a look at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the 1% over the last year. More
6 products to keep the skies friendly Plane travel can be stressful, especially during the holidays. These things can help keep the peace among travelers. More
2014: Helluva good year for stocks The bull market has been going for 2,115 days. If you put you're money in stocks, it's been a very happy year. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.