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This is to say that depending on how and when the resources and financial responsibilities are divided or shared, couples can have a wide range of success with their marriages. Couples wanting to retain their sense of personal financial autonomy tended to be more successful in managing their money in the short-term, but when things like children and the effort and time it takes to raise them are factored in, these couples actually faired worse than their resource-pooling counterparts (Burgoyne, Reibstein, Edmunds, and Dolman, 2007, 222). This, coupled with the fact that each partner brings his or her own ideas and feelings toward resource pooling into the relationship may account for much of the marital strife experienced in younger, less financially literate couples.
Authors Burgoyne, Reibstein, Edmunds, and Dolman (2007) state, "Before the wedding the majority had rather independent monetary arrangements, but a year later, some had moved to more collective systems. Factors influencing change or stability in financial arrangements were both pragmatic (having to respond to major expenses such as house purchase or a new baby) and ideological (e.g., the relative importance of autonomy or sharing within the marriage). But an over-riding factor was perceived ownership of income and other assets. Those choosing more separation in money matters did so in order to maintain their financial identity and autonomy. However, there was evidence that such systems can sow the seeds of inequality later if women curtail their employment to provide childcare." Put simply, couples that can manage their finances in a manner that encourages sharing of responsibilities throughout their relationship fare better than couples that try to incorporate their own autonomous ideals into the equation. Inequality in financial decisions and responsibilities translates to feelings of inequality within the relationship. This correlation should not be ignored as a major source of relationship turmoil, particularly with younger, less financially experienced couples.
From a gender specific standpoint, the act of keeping autonomous control of each partners' finances was an indicator of a male controlled relationship. This is to say that the males in the relationships tend to prefer autonomy to pooling of resources and shared decision-making. This could very well be an indicator of the prevalence of more financial risk-taking behavior on the part of males, but it is also an accurate predictor of marital stability and happiness in both partners (Volger and Wiggins, 2008, 130). Overwhelmingly, females in the Volger and Wiggins (2008) study preferred to share financial responsibilities and resources with their partners. In married couples that did so, the self identified levels of satisfaction and happiness were higher, indicating that a cooperative model of financial decision-making and responsibilities. A shift toward greater financial equity between partners also represents a correlating shift toward marital satisfaction. The Volger and Wiggins (2008) study goes on to posit that, "The analysis also indicates that when either men or women made autonomous decisions about spending, both male and female respondents were less satisfied with family life, as well as with life in general, than those who made joint decisions." This is interesting because it shows a clearly defined connection between shared financial responsibility and marital happiness.
Synthesizing the Analysis
There is undoubtedly a connection between money, financial responsibilities, and resource sharing and relationship or marital success and happiness. This is not to say that money issues are not always present, in some form or another in any relationship, but that a correlation exists between certain economic factors and dynamics and the happiness and satisfaction felt within the relationship or marriage. The lack of financial literacy of each partner and the skills and experiences that each brings to the relationship account for much of the potential for issues surrounding money and financial responsibility. Also, the specificities of gender roles and the desire to continue with fiscal autonomy can also impact a relationship, for better or worse, and in different ways in certain longer-term models. There is a clear connection between a couples' education level, income, and willingness to share economic resources and the levels of happiness and satisfaction within the relationship. Money issues are a major problem in many relationships, and economic irresponsibility can exacerbate problems of communication and expectations quite easily. It can be seen as well that economic management is not necessarily at the root of many relationship failures, but as other problems arise, arguments over money and financial management tend to take center stage since these types of problems are often recurring and extremely stressful in both the short and long terms. Couples would do well to pool their resources and learn to share the economic responsibilities in a way that promotes gender and role equality.
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Burgoyne, Carole B.; Reibstein, Janet; Edmunds, Anne and Valda Dolman. (2007). "Money
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