Financial management practices in non-traditional heterosexual couples

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Psychology


Studies of the monetary practices of (mainly) married couples have revealed gender-associated asymmetries in access to household resources. However, theory development has been restricted because gender issues are easily confounded with the ideological meaning(s) of ‘marriage’. In other words, is it being a ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ that produces such asymmetries, rather than gender per se? The proposed project aims to disentangle this conflation of ‘gender’ with ‘marriage’ by focusing on money management in non-traditional (ie unmarried cohabiting or non-cohabiting) heterosexual couples, The research will be in two phases: (1) in-depth qualitative interviews with individual partners in 15 non-traditional heterosexual (NTH) couples, including some that have specifically rejected the notion of marriage on ideological grounds, and (2) a larger scale survey of 300 NTH couples. Our main aims are to:

  • Provide a detailed analysis of how NTH couples organise their finances and compare this with existing data on married couples;

  • Develop theories of household financial management that are grounded in a more inclusive definition of ‘household’ or ‘family’;

  • Explore NTH couples’ understandings of their financial rights and responsibilities and consider the implications of their financial management practices for the proposed law reform governing financial provision on cohabitation breakdown.


10 25 50