If money’s a sore spot in your relationship, there’s good reason. According to a study in the Journal of Marketing Research, most of us claim we’re attracted to people with similar spending habits. But when it comes time to settle down, we tend to marry our financial opposites. 

The researchers believe it’s because both spendthrifts and tightwads are conflicted about money. People who get a kick out of shopping feel guilty about their finances. So, they’re attracted to someone who’s thrifty. And people who are tight with cash still want nice things. So, they tend to gravitate toward big spenders. In the short-term, it often works. But eventually, the fireworks start. 

When the researchers compared spending types with levels of marital satisfaction, couples who had opposite ideas about money came in dead last. 

In fact, most gave their marriages lower scores than the couples made up of two big spenders who lived on the edge of bankruptcy! 

If you’ve already married your financial opposite, don’t panic. Bethany Palmer is coauthor of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money. And she says you can avoid friction just by paying the bills together. Because once you both understand your financial picture, you’ll be less likely to disagree about money.

If you’re single, finance expert Taffy Wagner says sharing financial information with your new love is the best way to resist landing in an “opposite spender disaster.” Because once the cards are on the table, you’ll be able to realistically evaluate how to handle money as a couple.