A Cornell Study About Marriage & Money Offers A Theory About When Couples Split Or Stay Together

Every single relationship in life will end in one of two ways: you either break up or stay together forever (as either unmarried partners or married spouses). But how do you know which category your relationship will fall under? At what point do you know this is your forever person or just another pitstop along the way to your forever person? In other words, at what point do you make the decision to either be together forever or split? Well, a new Cornell study about marriage and money offers some insight as to when that moment of clarity happens for most couples.

As much as most of us would like to believe that the plots of our romantic lives mirror those of romantic comedies, the study found that the main reason couples either split or stay together is a lot more boring than a disapproving family or an ex you just can't seem to get rid of. In fact, the study found that finances (see? I told you...BORING) are a big factor into whether or not a couple splits or stays together.

Now, the idea that your bank account affects your relationship status isn't quite novel. But this new study conducted by Patrick Ishizuka, the Frank H.T. Rhodes postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Population Center, offers a fresh take on the whole situation.

In order to conduct his study, Ishizuka first looked into the results of a nationally representative survey from the years of 1996 through 2013. It was officially called the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Moreover, he also looked into the data collected from a monthly survey called the Current Population Survey. The Cornell Chronicle reports that the Current Population Survey was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and surveyed 60,000 households across the United States. So what was he looking for in these survey results? Ishizuka was specifically researching how the combined income of the couples compared to the median income of married couples in the state they lived in.

OK, so here's what he found: His study focused on couples who live together and, of those couples, he found that the ones who were earning the same desired amount of money were more likely to stay together.

“Once couples have reached a certain income and wealth threshold, they’re more likely to marry,” he explained in his paper, The Economic Foundations of Cohabiting Couples’ Union Transitions. “Economically disadvantaged couples are also more likely to separate.”

So what's the deal? Why is this happening? According to a report in the Cornell Chronicle, this study confirms an older theory called "the marriage bar." Basically, this theory states that people have a sort of financial "bar" they think they have to reach before they believe that they're ready to tie the knot. For example, some people might believe that they can't get married until they're financially stable enough to buy a house and start a family.

“They want to have a house and a car and enough savings to have a big wedding; and they also want to have stable jobs and a steady income,” Ishizuka explained.

In addition to affecting your chances of getting married, the study also found that your income could play a role in whether or not the two of you stay together. “Equality appears to promote stability,” Ishizuka stated. “Equality in men’s and women’s economic contributions may hold these couples together.”

He believes the sense of financial equality improves relationships by increasing "commitment or cooperation between partners since they’re bringing similar economic resources to the relationship."

The good news? This isn't a sexist issue! His findings show that there's no evidence to support the theory that the man's employment or economic status matters more than the woman's in a heterosexual relationship. “It’s really the couple’s combined resources that seem to matter,” he explained.

TLDR: If you're hoping to get married, you better get to work.

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