Sliding v Deciding: Cohabitation and couple Finances

A major finding of recent research into the effects of cohabitation on subsequent marital outcomes is the potential detrimental consequences of ‘sliding’ in relationships rather than ‘deciding’ – that is letting transition events ‘just happen’ rather than making a considered, unambiguous decision.

A discussion for cohabiting couples is about what the couple agree a healthy marriage relationship should be. A discussion about prioritising the relationship, the meaning of dedication to your partner and the importance of taking other options off the table, can be valuable.

    Discussing Financial matters

    More often than not, one or both partners are reticent about sharing their financial resources. This can provide a catalyst for discussing the meaning of the ‘giving’ of one to the other (as usually expressed in the marriage vows) and a ‘shared married life’. Couples may find it difficult to reconcile independence, (frequently expressed as a control of money) with the mutuality and compromise that are characteristic of marital harmony.

    It is important to deal directly and constructively with these issues as financial pressures are commonly quoted as reasons for martial conflict and breakdown. Exploring finances and the underlying values of each partner in relation to money can assist to understand the nature and importance of commitment.

    An Australian study has shown that there is a strong link between experience of financial hardship and personal psychological distress (Creed, P.A., & Miller, J. Psychological distress in the labour market: Shame or deprivation? Australian Journal of Psychology, 2006, 58, 31-39). One point made by the authors is that financial distress reduces a person’s capacity to plan and interferes with planning for a meaningful future. It is this that primarily reduces psychological wellbeing.

  • A question that emerges from a finding like this is to what extent are financially troubled premarital couples affected by their financial distress? 
  • Is it possible that their relationship satisfaction is reduced by financial stress?
    An analysis of a sample of 520 PREPARE/ENRICH couples reveals that individual income is positively and significantly correlated with couple positive couple agreement scores in a number of key categories. The greater the income the higher the couple satisfaction. This seems to indicate that financial hardship (associated with lower levels of income) interferes with and inhibits planning and implementation of activities and goals that are finance-related or costly. For lower income couples, setting up and managing budgets becomes difficult and couple conflict becomes more likely. Also, engaging in costly leisure activities and spending time with friends and family in such activities becomes more difficult for financially troubled couples.

Take the Couple Checkup

Simply click on the Get Started button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

Take the Couple Checkup 

Take the Couple Checkup

The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

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