When I think back to my childhood and the way my parents interacted with each other, I remember a lot of yelling. Unsurprisingly, one of the main issues they fought about was money—not because my mom was frivolous or my dad was too cheap. We just didn’t have a lot of it. Fortunately, they survived all those fights, and this year, will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary. I’m sure they’ll say it wasn’t an easy road, but they nonetheless managed to travel it together.
However, there are plenty of couples out there who can’t say the same. One of the leading causes of divorce has to do with finances. "Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce," said Sonya Britt, a researcher who’s studied the issue. "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money—for both men and women."
Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t knock the results of this recent survey from financial services company Comet. According to its findings, gleaned from the responses of 364 single, employed millennials without kids, about a third of those surveyed said they would end a relationship if it meant getting a significant raise.
But don’t get it twisted: The cost of love is pretty steep. It would take an average of $37,000 a year for respondents to end a relationship completely. For men, that figure worked out to $46,000, and for women, $27,000.
The survey also found that millennials said it would take an average raise of $64,000 for them to put a hold on marriage, and for $67,000, they’d consider postponing kids. "According to those surveyed, 40% of employed single millennials without children say one of the primary reasons they’ve stayed stag is to focus on their careers," the report’s writers note. "Considering more than 1 in 3 working millennials are additionally clocking in at one or more side gigs, their long hours may not be good for fostering romantic relationships in the first place." This was particularly true for millennials between the ages of 20 and 27.
Additionally, even though a promotion doesn’t necessarily equal a bump in pay, 41 percent said they would throw two fingers up and call deuces on a relationship if it meant getting a life-changing promotion. “These transformative jobs were so important to millennials,” the report states, “that the average respondent admitted they were willing to stay single for 11 years, delay marriage for seven years, and wait to have children for eight years if it meant scoring the right opportunities.”
Are these findings cold-hearted? Maybe. I certainly would feel more than a little hurt if my long-time partner chose his career over me. But they also debunk terrible stereotypes about millennials being lazy and entitled. More importantly, they reveal just how financially aware our generation really is. No one wants to enter into a serious relationship, marriage or otherwise, if they’re saddled with debt and unable to carry their weight. Plus, considering millions of Americans are dealing with student loan debt, that’s a reality too many of us are dealing with.
If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, though, another recent report’s findings painted a different picture of the relationship between love and money: In a Personal Capital survey of more than 2,000 Americans, 78 percent said that love is more important than having deep pockets. More than half of respondents, however, also kept it real and said money was the biggest stressor on a relationship.
"Love should be about the heart, not the wallet,” said a spokesperson for the company that commissioned the survey, “but even the strongest romantic bond will sometimes be tested by financial realities.”