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6 money matters that can lead to divorce

You've heard it many times before: Money is one of the top reasons couples divorce. You might wonder why they don't try to talk about finances before they tie the knot, but just as people can't foresee their spouse's infidelity or refusal to clean the kitchen, money problems can be hard to predict.

Here are six issues couples often argue about. Did your marriage end because of one of them?

1. Merging money: Should you combine every last dollar you have, or maintain separate bank accounts? The problem isn't always the disagreement, but what it means. Some people fear, for example, that if their spouse wants to keep a separate account for themselves, they have secret expenses or not enough faith in the other's spending habits.

2. Dealing with debt: It's common for couples to enter a marriage with varying degrees of debt, and natural for the person with more debt to feel guilty. Meanwhile, the other spouse might have some resentment. Couples who can talk about how to tackle debt rather than use it as a scorecard are more likely to succeed.

3. Managing spending: So often in marriages there's a "saver" and a "spender." But attaching labels to each other can put you and your spouse at odds. Instead of making your spouse feel guilty about his or her tendencies, talk to each other about how you plan to spend your money. It's the surprise purchases that lead to the most arguments, after all.

4. Investing wisely: Studies show that men are more willing to take financial risks than women. But investing is a secondary argument. First you have to agree on what amounts of money will be spent where. If you can both discuss your goals and timeframes for the money you share, you'll be able to come to an agreement on where to invest.

5. Keeping money secrets: Sometimes it's hard to be honest even with ourselves about where our money goes. The enemy here is shame. When you talk to each other about spending, keep an open mind and mouth. Communicating regularly without judgment about where your money's going will get you in the habit and build trust in one another.

6. Emergency planning: Everyone has a different vision of a safety net, so try not to argue about how big yours should be. If you can agree that you need reserves in case of an emergency, you can usually find a middle ground.

Source: Financial Post, "Top 6 money issues couples argue about," Mindy Crary, Feb. 8, 2012

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