Married Americans hold more debt than their unmarried counterparts, on average. That could be why nearly 40 percent of them believe their spouses are less than entirely financially faithful.

While spending could go up or down depending on how finances combine, a recent study conducted by TD Ameritrade about financial changes after marriage showed that people tend to worry more about their money one way or another after the honeymoon is over.

While 30 percent of people saved more after marriage, 18 percent started spending more. Just 10 percent of people spent less. Other interesting stats included…

  • One percent of men and 8 percent women stopped working after marriage
  • 4 percent started working and 3 percent said their spouse did
  • 22 percent say marriage changed nothing about how they handle finances
  • 30 percent say their spouse provides moral support to spend wisely
  • Caregiving and shared health insurance turn out to be better benefits of marriage than couples expected before the wedding

In sickness and in health — and in debt

The bill for marriage itself is not insignificant. According to, the average wedding cost couples more than $35,000 in 2016, an increase from the 2015 price. No wonder married people are likely to have noticeably more debt than those who haven’t gotten hitched. (You can do better.)

The average unmarried American has roughly $40,000 in debt, which seems like a lot. At least until one considers that the average married American owes more than $86,000. When those without any debt are factored, out the gap increases further: The average married person in debt owes more than $120,000, compared to the $61,580 that the typical single borrower owes.

Much like the amounts owed, the types of debt that married and unmarried people carry differs as well as priorities shift. While unmarried Americans are more likely to owe on student loans and credit cards, spouses tend to have more car loan and mortgage debt.

Does marriage make us more responsible?

The sources of help Americans seek out to manage their money might not be actually helping much. Married people are more likely to rely on their spouse for help with savings and investments (30 percent of respondents) than they are an online financial tool, a registered investment accountant, or a commissioned broker or dealer.

Unmarried people might not be any more responsible. More than half of unmarried individuals don’t utilize any of the above services to help with their financial matters, compared to just 24 percent of married people who said the same.

And even if plenty of married people are relying on their spouse for financial matters, the survey indicated a significant amount of couples deceive each other, at least a little bit, when it comes to money.

Nearly 30 percent of respondents indicated they are “mostly” financially faithful, while three percent copped to being “not very” financially faithful and another two percent admitted they aren’t financially faithful “at all.” That combined five percent of respondents likely are not helping their household’s debt situation very much, and there are probably more people who just won’t admit it.

Married Americans were more likely to believe their spouse was deceiving them than to actually admit that they were doing so, as 39 percent of them reported that their loved one was less than entirely financially faithful, compared to 34 percent of married respondents saying they were the less-than-faithful ones.

The most common change in financial affairs for Americans after saying “I do” was simply taking a closer look at their money, as 37 percent of people indicated they began paying more attention to their finances after tying the knot.

What happens after that look is taken depends on the marriage in question — although being financially aware and honest with a spouse seem like smart bets for anyone.

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Article last modified on February 23, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Getting Married Makes Americans Worry About Their Financial Outlook - AMP.