Money Can’t Buy Love, but Sharing It Strengthens Relationships

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Young couple with money
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Money can’t buy love, but getting on the same page about finances can lead to a longer-lasting, healthier relationship, according to a new study.

Couples who share financial accounts build a stronger bond and interact in ways that are “more positive, stable and safe,” according to researchers at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

When couples who share finances interacted on publicly available online financial forums, they were more likely to use positive language when describing their relationships, such as using the following:

  • Pronouns such as “we,” “us” and “our” instead of “I”
  • What are known as “affiliation” words, which include “agree,” “connect,” “friend,” “kindness,” “listen” and “peace”

According to a press release, in the study, researchers turned to psychology’s “interdependence theory,” which states that the quality of relationships can be assessed partially based on considering “the unique situation for each interaction, as well as the individual’s needs, thoughts and motives.”

Emily Garbinsky, associate professor of marketing and management communication, says the findings were not a surprise:

“We expected pooled finances to increase one’s level of dependence on their partner, as well as align the couple’s (financial) interests and goals, things that interdependence theory tells us are associated with high levels of relationship quality.”

Interestingly, the researchers found that the tie between pooling finances and reporting a healthier relationship was stronger in the U.S. and the U.K. than in Japan.

The researchers speculate that because Japan is a “collectivist” culture — as opposed to an “individualist” culture — Japanese couples already are more likely to focus on the well-being of significant others, reducing the impact of sharing finances.

For more on love and money, check out “6 Money Moves That Couples Should Make in 2022.”

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