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Easier for couples to forgive cheating than money problems: BMO survey

TORONTO - A new survey suggests that Canadian couples may be more willing to forgive a cheating spouse than to overlook money problems.

According to the poll by the Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO), 68 per cent of those surveyed say fighting over money would be their top reason for divorce, followed by infidelity (60 per cent) and disagreements about family (36 per cent).

The survey, released ahead of Valentine's Day, also found discrepancies not only over who is in charge of finances for a household, but also who is to blame when budgets go awry.

Forty-one per cent of men say they handle the finances in their relationship; while only 15 per cent say it's their partner who is in charge of their money.

That compared with 32 per cent of women who considered themselves the one calling the financial shots in their relationship, compared with 19 per cent who said that was their partner's job.

The survey was conducted by Pollara with an online sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18 and older, between Jan. 24 and Jan. 28. The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Chris Buttigieg, BMO's senior manager of wealth planning strategy, says the survey showed a "clear disconnect" between how couples view their spending and savings habits, and how they view their partner's role.

"If both partners in a relationship feel they're calling the shots and they have different views, then there's going to be conflict at some point down the road," he said.

"It's critical to communicate, be open to compromise and be prepared to talk frankly about financial issues, including your plans for retirement and how they'll be funded," Buttigieg added.

The poll also found that 37 per cent of men surveyed said their partner spends too much money and should be saving more. Twenty-three per cent blame themselves for not being thrifty in their spending habits.

Meanwhile, 36 per cent of women who were surveyed said it was their male partners who overspend, while a quarter admitted it was themselves who needed to rein in their money habits.

"Money has the potential to be a source of tension and conflict for any couple, regardless of the amount they have," said Buttigieg.

"While being open and honest with each other on financial matters is a good first step in building a happy fiscal union, it's also important to work together to develop a financial plan which takes into consideration your individual and joint goals and helps set the two of you up for a lifetime of financial, and marital, success."

The Canadian Press

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