Incompatible tolerance for risk can lead to divorce

Fighting about money is often cited as a primary factor in divorce cases. However, recent research by the University of California indicates that couples who do not have the same level of risk tolerance may be at a higher risk of divorcing.

The research found this was particularly true when the risk involves financial decisions.

What the study indicated

Researchers asked 5,300 couples how much they were willing to take a risk when it comes to sports, driving, careers and finances. When they controlled for other factors, the researchers determined that how willing each partner was to take risks was the largest predictor of whether the couple would eventually separate. The couples who had the most unequal risk tolerances were twice as likely to divorce as the couples who had the most equal tolerance for risk. Of the various categories studied by the survey, different tolerance for financial risk most strongly predicted divorce.

What the results mean for married couples

Couples who have different attitudes about saving and investing are less likely to own a home or have an existing home renovated. Differing risk tolerance can also affect the level of tension that surrounds differing income streams. While one spouse having a stable income, while the other has a more risky one can be beneficial, it can also create tension if one partner is not comfortable with the level of risk.

The good news is that the study found that some couples become more alike in their risk preferences over time. Couples who can reconcile their differences are more likely to stay together.

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