It's not exactly a state secret that the biggest trigger for marriage arguments is money. After all, study after study says so.
But is money really the key driver in marital and long-term relationship woes? It certainly doesn't have to be.
"A new marriage is a profoundly thrilling emotional commitment," notes Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service created by women for women. It's easy to be swept up in the excitement and romance of this honeymoon phase at the expense of tackling its serious financial implications, Dearing explains. "But the fact is, investing time and effort up front to get your joint financial house in order will free you to avoid conflicts about money and enjoy your new life together as fully as possible," she says.
Dearing also believes that reducing money-related stress "early on" will only support a relationship over the long term. "Couples can do this by understanding the truth behind some common newly-married money myths," she notes.
For example, the notion that talking about money kills the romantic side of a relationship has no basis in reality, Dearing says. "The truth is, making time for regular conversations about money supports a healthy relationship," she states. "There's no reason to wait for financial issues to crop up. As early as possible, before issues arise: share your history with money; discuss and reconcile your spending habits; and share your expectations and goals for your money. Set aside some time every month - call it a 'Financial Date Night' - to assign money-related tasks, talk about future financial decisions and review progress toward your goals."
That's not the only myth involving romantic relationships and money. One adage has it that separate bank accounts can make things easier on a couple. Not so, experts say.
"Before I got married, a few women told me they had secret accounts their spouses didn't know about or have access to," notes Zina Kumok, a personal finance writer at DebtFree.com. "But in order to have a successful marriage, you shouldn't be starting out with the expectation that you'll need your secret bank account. If you're worried about your partner overspending or about the possibility of divorce, talk about a prenuptial agreement or other formalities. These should be open conversations done with your partner - not in secret or behind their back."
Another myth - the notion that a woman's non-financial contributions will be recognized, and will give her the same power as she had before she left the workforce.
"When one member of a couple is the sole breadwinner, it creates pressure and the imbalance of power begins," says Samantha Ettus, a workplace wellness expert, and the author of the book The Pie Life - A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction. "It's a rare couple where a non-breadwinner and a breadwinner are on equal footing when it comes to spending and purchasing choices. Money is power and it is hard to have power if you are not contributing financially."
Once a loving couple figures out the myths and realities of money and relationships, future financial interactions just get easier and easier.
"I'm the male half of an actual married couple," says Murray Suid, co-founder (with his wife) of Mobile Movie Making Magazine. "I had the smarts and luck to marry a woman who understands money. She knows how to make it and how to manage it. Because of her, we've had a solid materialistic life, and that can be a strong foundation for love."
"In our case, her money savvy has led to creating a business, in which we were collaborators," he adds. "So we've gotten to know each other in a variety of ways, and not just in romance. I've seen her negotiate deals and I've seen her choose wisely with investments. So, overall, it's not the love of money that matters but the use of money. Well-used, money gives romance a boost, at least in our case, and we've been married for several decades."
Maybe that's the best truth of all on money, marriage and relationships. A healthy combination of true love, deep respect and appreciation, along with a dose of common sense can bust any money myth, and lead to a happier lives together - debt, dollars and all.