This Is The #1 Source Of Relationship Stress For Long-Term Couples

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Money is a worry for many of us — whether it's a constant source of stress or an occasional one. It doesn't just affect us, but our romantic relationships and families too. And now, there's yet more research confirming that money is the number one cause of relationship stress. The Harris Poll and Ally Bank surveyed more than 1,400 American adults who were all either married or in a serious relationship. Their number one source of relationship stress? Dolla dolla bills, y'all. Or the lack of them. I can't imagine anyone was stressed about having too many dolla dolla bills.

With student loans, expensive housing, and avocados that aren't going to buy themselves, it's no surprise that money can cause stress in a relationship. "Financial problems can cause major problems in relationships," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It’s very difficult for partners who view money, saving, and spending in fundamentally conflicting ways to manage household finances together."

But while 36 percent of those surveyed said that money was their number one source of relationship stress, there was an interesting twist. Young adults — those ages 18 to 54 — were almost twice as much likely to say that money was their main source of stress. Forty-four percent of the younger age group said money was the worst culprit, compared to only 23 percent of the older age group. Which confirms one thing we already knew: damn you, Baby Boomers, with your yachts and your pre-cut mango. You're way more baller than the rest of us.

Interestingly, there was virtually no difference between those who were married and those who were in serious relationships. They were almost equally likely to say money was the worst cause of stress, coming in at 36 and 38 percent, respectively. Though the number two source of stress did vary, with married Americans saying that health came in at number two and those who were in a serious relationship but not married saying it was family that was causing relationship stress.

Still, money was the largest overall stressor. So, how can you avoid money issues ruining your relationship? Here are some tips to keep in mind.


Figure Out Your Own Relationship With Money

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First of all, it's important to have a good relationship to money yourself before you approach it with someone else — so it's time to get your finances in line. "The unfortunate truth is that money effects pretty much everything in our lives," Maggie Germano, certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women, tells Bustle. "It is usually the deciding factor whenever we are making a big decision, whether that is choosing a job, moving to a new city, traveling to a new country, having a child, ending a relationship, etc. Money can hold us back, or it can give us the freedom to choose the life we really want... So get clear on the life that you want to live. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What do you have to do to get there? And how does money fit in with all of those answers? Once you answer those questions for yourself, you can start taking the steps forward to get your money right and reach your goals."

Look at your debts, your income, your goals — do a total once-over. It will put you in a much better position to discuss issues with your partner and come up with a game-plan together.


Talk About It With Your Partner —  A Lot

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If you want to avoid fighting about money, it's important to talk about it — a lot. Bring it up as early as possible and keep being frank about it. "Your first date can be a great opportunity to test the waters and see how the person you’re meeting responds to a simple conversation about money," Emily Bouchard, a certified money coach, tells Bustle. "Start with paying the check and be "confident and happy to discuss money in the context of paying the bill you provide them with an invitation to show up and meet you there."

And if you didn't get it in early, that's OK — it's never too late to start.


Save Little And Often

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

The best tip anyone gave me about money had two parts — to automate your savings and to save little and often. No matter how little you have to save, just start doing it, because it will add up. "Because saving $10 or $20 per paycheck sounds so insignificant, many people will give up before they even get started," Erin Lowry, Millennial finance expert and author of the upcoming book, BROKE MILLENNIAL: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together tells Bustle. "They may wonder, why bother saving $10 a paycheck, when it would take five months to get to just a $100 (assuming you're paid bi-weekly)? But the point of saving even just a few bucks isn't about the amount but, rather, building the habit. It's much easier to increase your savings later on as you earn more and pay off debt than it is to try and jump start a habit and make a complete lifestyle shift. Plus, every little bit you can squirrel away eventually adds up."

Some money stress might be completely unavoidable, depending on your situation, but it doesn't have to destroy your relationship. Be open and frank about money, talk about it often, and have a game plan — and make sure you're approaching it as a team.