Most People Prefer Their S.O. to Be Happy Rather Than Earn a Lot of Money

As blissful as a committed relationship can be, it’s not always easy to hitch your wagon to another person’s and attempt to successfully navigate as a team in every aspect of daily life. There are plenty of opportunities to learn from each other —and plenty of opportunities to argue along the way. Regardless of how in love you and bae are, you’ll probably find yourselves at odds about a few core issues: work-life balance, the proper way to pack a dishwasher and, of course, money. If anything, it would be weird if you always agreed!

While money is a notorious point of contention for couples everywhere, the recently released Couples & Money study from Fidelity suggests that many pairs are at least working to communicate positively about cash flow. Seven in 10 couples say they generally communicate very well with their partner. A fourth say that they communicate exceptionally well. And while couples cop to clashing on the kinds of financial topics you might expect — budgets, how much should be saved for retirement, and how to effectively pay off debt — the study also indicates that most people are putting a higher premium on their partner’s happiness than on their earning power.

A couple discusses their finances
A couple discusses their finances

According to Fidelity, three-quarters of participants would rather have their spouse happy at work but earning less than taking a job that stresses them out just so they can bring home more money. That even goes for couples who are already concerned with debt! Per Fidelity, of the participating couples who aren’t concerned with debt, nearly 90 percent would encourage each other to make work decisions based on happiness more than on salary. To some extent, of course, this is an idealistic approach, but Lorna Kapusta — Vice President of Women Investors at Fidelity Investments — is hopeful that these kind intentions will translate to couples communicating even more effectively about their joint finances. “The statistic shows us the importance of the reduced stress that we crave and desire when it comes to financials,” Kapusta says. “Picking the job that makes us happy is only one piece of it. You need to have the other pieces — communicating and talking and planning in the right place so it all comes together.”

It’s easy to assume that happiness at work is the key to bae’s reduced stress and therefore consider it as the alternative option in a “would you rather”-style question like the one at hand (i.e., would you rather have your S.O. work in a job that makes them happy or in one that makes them more money?). But if you and your partner are communicating effectively about finances in the first place, you both might feel less pressure about what’s happening in the bank, making the situation about money versus happiness feel less black-and-white.

“The hard takeaway that I have from this [study] is the importance of communication and being on the same page with your finances,” Kapusta notes. “It’s pretty foundational for happiness and reduced stress.” In order to achieve this effective communication, Kapusta suggests that couples consider bringing in a third party, establish mutual goals that can be regularly discussed, and check out resources like the Fidelity Couples Checklist. “Make sure you’re communicating on a regular basis and that you have what you would define as a plan,” she encourages. “Everyone defines ‘plan’ differently. Whatever ‘plan’ looks like for you, you need to talk about your current situations, budgeting, what you want to save for, and where you’re heading.”

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(Photo via Getty)