LeBaron‐Black, Ashley B., Dew, Jeffrey P., Wilmarth, Melissa, Holmes, Erin K., Serido, Joyce, Yorgason, Jeremy B.. James, Spencer, "Pennies and power: finances, relational power, and marital outcomes," Family Relations, Jul2024, Vol. 73 Issue 3, p1686-1705

Using feminist theory as a lens, we tested whether couple finance behaviors are associated with marital outcomes and whether shared relational power mediates these associations. Background: Building on a previous study, we sought to understand financial dynamics and relational power (a) in early marriage, (b) using a nationally representative sample, and (c) considering financial deception. Method: We tested these associations with a nationally representative sample of mixed‐gender U.S. newlyweds (N = 1,654 couples; data are from the CREATE [Couple Relationships and Transition Experiences] project) using an actor–partner interdependence mediation model. Results: In support of our hypotheses, we found significant actor and partner associations from financial conflict, financial deception, and unequal influence in financial decision‐making with relational power, marital satisfaction, and marital stability. Additionally, many associations between couple finance variables and marital outcomes were mediated by relational power. We did not find expected associations from employment status and joint/separate bank accounts to relational power, marital satisfaction, or marital stability. Conclusion: Our findings support feminist claims suggesting that unequal financial power is linked to unequal relational power, which is in turn associated with lower marital satisfaction and stability. Implications: Financial conflict, financial deception, and unequal financial influence can unbalance relational power and weaken new marriages.