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A tricky combination: Some money, a honey and different spending styles
When Go BankingRates did a Valentines Day-timed financial survey, it found certain money habits can be "deal breakers" for about half of American adults when it comes to romance. - photo by Lois M. Collins
I'm coming up on my 20th wedding anniversary this spring, but I still remember the things that mattered to me when I was dating.

I wanted someone who'd be honest, compassionate and humorous for a life partner. Most of the rest of it was somewhat negotiable, though the needs and wants changed a bit over the years I was dating.

I wasn't too worried about money issues. I figured we'd sort those out as we went along and we have, though it hasn't always been smooth. Life has a way of throwing unexpected repairs and challenges (to house and to body, in our case) at most people.

Financial experts, though, will tell you that our approach was haphazard. And they note that while one can maybe overlook a partner's financial habits while dating, it becomes pretty difficult to do so when you're married. But the future of the marriage sometimes depends on reconciling those differences.

Recently, Go BankingRates conducted a survey to find out what it called the financial "deal breakers" that can put huge and possibly terminal pressure on a relationship.

The challenges they asked about included the partner not earning enough, spending too much, having a poor credit score, being secretive about finances, being too cheap or having too much debt.

Nearly half of those surveyed 46 percent selected the final option, "none of the above."

But the majority did find a deal breaker on the list. Most often, it was overspending an option chosen by more than a third of those who saw on the list a financial habit that would make them reluctant to pursue the romance. Next most popular was being secretive about finances, then too much debt. Those were clustered pretty closely together, in terms of percentages.

Go BankRate cited a Nielsen study that said about 40 percent of Americans "live paycheck to paycheck," explaining why that's a realistic and understandable concern.

They noted that women were slightly more likely to see real trouble areas on the list, compared to the men they surveyed. While they were about equal when it came to disliking too much debt, inadequate earnings or a lousy credit score, the men surveyed were more likely to worry about overspending. What women hate most is men who are secretive about money, something cited by a quarter of the women who agreed they had some concern about financial behavior.

Older respondents worried more than younger ones about too much debt, while younger ones were put off by the thought that someone might be "too cheap."

I find the survey fascinating, in part because in those heady days of falling in love with my future husband, I wasn't paying much attention to finances or what his spending habits or preferences would mean. He didn't seem to be reckless, nor could I hear the pennies scream in pain as they left his hand, so I figured all would be well.

I think that's probably how most people are when they find someone they think they could spend the remainder of their lives with. We've been pretty compatible when it comes to managing our money.

But I've also seen the misery that can be created by financial behavior on the part of one or both people. I've seen marriages I thought were unassailable split apart under financial pressure and mistakes.

I know I was naive and lucky both, and having more financial talks up front would not have hurt us in the least.

As we talk to our kids and grandkids about strong relationships and as schools increasingly attempt to address those issues, we need to stop treating money issues like they're deeply personal and taboo. Silence shortchanges the relationship.