Kids are a bargain: it's your other half who is costing you dear

Study claims a happy marriage is pricier than having kids

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Low angle view of newly weds cutting a wedding cake with friends and family.Creative image #:  57449768License type:  Royalty-

If you're still reeling from the news that it costs more to bring up a child to the age of 21 than it does to buy the average semi-detached home, then there's more bad news today - the cost of maintaining a happy marriage is even higher.

A study by LV= last week put the cost of kids at £231,843 - and absorbing more than a third of the average household's income. It revealed that the time that this was more than the cost of the average semi-detached property.

Now, a separate report from Quidco has put the cost of a happy marriage at £267,357. The incredible cost starts with the average cost of a wedding and honeymoon - at £21,257. Of those who took part in the study, 52% said it was worth investing in, because a dream wedding would set them up for a happy marriage.

But the meringue dress and Caribbean holiday are not enough to keep your other half sweet for the next five decades or so. The study claimed that the happiest couples were those who had an average of three date nights together a month - including meals out, drinks and cinema trips. They calculated that this costs around £39 each time the couple goes out - £117 a month or £1,404 a year.

As if this wasn't expensive enough, the happiest couples also said they had at least three romantic nights in together each month - with movie downloads, takeaways, and a bottle of wine. This sets them back an average of £15.50 per night - or £558 a year.

These couples don't just show up on these romantic evenings in their baby-food-covered jeans or the trainers they trudged across a field in to watch the kids playing sport. To get 'date ready' for one another they forked out an average of £267 a year.

The study also showed that the odd night in or out wasn't enough to keep the dream alive, though. Couples also need holidays away from the kids - with the average couple saying that going away for one holiday and three mini-breaks a year was the ideal balance. This comes to a total of £2,337 a year.

Then there's the vexing issue of presents. Couples claimed that a gift twice a month kept them sweet - at a cost of £305 a year. They also said they spent £477 on jewellery each year for their other half; and happy wives usually received a bunch of flowers a month.

It's easy to see how these lavish gifts and treats add up - and make the average marriage more financially draining that having a child or buying a home.

Really?

However, this is, of course, absolute nonsense. The researchers themselves pointed out that you can get all these things far cheaper through canny shopping, deals, vouchers and cashback - but that's missing the point slightly.

Of course, we'd all be happier than we are right now if we could jet off for a relaxing break four times a year, and receive lavish gifts every week, but an unhappy couple that does all of these things won't make themselves happy. Likewise, a happy couple doesn't need to do any of them.

A couple that spends £1,000 or less on their wedding is no less likely to have a happy marriage than one that insists on blowing the best part of £25,000. And the vast majority of the rest of these findings are patently pipe dreams. If a researcher asked you how many holidays a year would make you happy, you may well say four, but you don't need them.

Likewise, we'd all love a life of lavish gifts, but the vast majority of couples can't remember the last time they received a gift out of the blue from one another - unless you count the time the garage did a BOGOF on de-icer and they gave you their spare.

And while we'd all love date night to be an expensive affair, most people would be happy to spend it on the sofa re-watching a favourite old DVD and eating a fakeaway they knocked up in the kitchen.

A separate part of the Quidco research actually found the important stuff. It said that happy couples were likely to say 'I love you' to one another, that 82% of people said a strong marriage takes work, and that 73% said each member of the couple needed to put equal effort into the relationship to make it work. Some 84% agreed that money couldn't buy a happy relationship.

So £267,357 might buy you some nice gifts, and great holidays, but a happy marriage is something that's simultaneously far cheaper - and much more expensive.

£20,983 wedding: where the money goes

£20,983 wedding: where the money goes


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