real life

If you want a happy marriage, you need to start spending. Big.

I remember my friend returning from her honeymoon and sitting down to calculate exactly how much her relationship had cost her since the day she had gotten engaged. In her defense, she’s an accountant, so she couldn’t help herself.

Keep in mind that this was over ten years ago and if she did the same cost analysis today, it would probably be double or even triple.

She calculated that she and her new husband had spent $60,000 since their engagement including the rings, the engagement party, the wedding and the honeymoon. That’s a deposit for a house.

They were only one month into their marriage and it had already cost them a bomb. I’m tempted to ask her to update her relationship cost analysis now, over ten years later.

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“In her defense, she’s an accountant, so she couldn’t help herself.” (Image: iStock)

Maybe it’s better not to go there. In my experience (18 years together and 12 years of marriage) it’s best not to to calculate such things. Ignorance is bliss, or in this case, happiness.

Half a million dollars is the average cost of a happy marriage, according to a study by UK shopping website Quidco. That includes the wedding, regular holidays, date nights (an average of three per month) and gifts to keep the spark alive.

  • What you should be spending each year to ensure a happy marriage:
  • $2800 on date nights;
  • $1100 on Netflix, movie downloads, snacks, takeaways and drinks;
  • $535 on getting ready for date nights;
  • $4600 on holidays and trips away;
  • $611 on twice-monthly gifts for each other;
  • $955-$2004 on jewellery.
  • Figures by Qudico.

That explains a lot about the current state of my marriage. Not only did we do a cheap wedding and skip the honeymoon, we also average around three date nights per year and have never once bought jewellery for each other. I got the band of his watch fixed once, does that count?

We do spend money on both Foxtel and Netflix, however we tend to watch shows separately. I watch Foxtel in the lounge room and he watches Netflix in the office. There are several reasons for this has. We tend to like different shows, we are a complete and total entertainment mismatch. How did we ever get together? By pretending to like each other’s shows, that’s how.

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We tend to like different shows (he watches a lot of stand up comedy shows and violence and I prefer, well, anything else). (Image: iStock)

The only get-aways and holidays we’ve been on over the past eight years have been work-related. They’ve still been great however they are nowhere near a regular occurrence, averaging out at one every second year.

We rarely buy gifts for each other, although we have started making an effort on birthdays.

I bought myself chocolates for Valentine’s Day (two boxes of Cadbury’s for $10, bargain!). We did write each other cards but didn’t go out to dinner because he was on night shift that week.

It probably doesn’t sound like it but we are really, really happy. Two homebodies slothing around our home not wearing jewellery, hiding chocolates from each other (under the vegetables in the draw in the fridge).


Sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells us how much sex happy couples should be having. Post continues after this video…

To say it’s problematic to measure the happiness of a relationship based on how much money is spent is an understatement. Maybe in the first few years that stuff matters. It soon doesn’t. Soon it’s the things money can’t buy that mean more.

Vix Leyton, spokesperson for Quidco, agrees, telling The Telegraph, “While the best things in life, in this case love, are free – ostentatious gestures to demonstrate it come at a cost.” She said saying, “I love you” is essential to a happy marriage – 16 times per month preferably – and while the cost of a wedding and honeymoon can be exorbitant, it’s well worth it.

“Half of people surveyed believe a dream wedding plays a part in setting you up for a strong marriage, but engaged couples need to keep a firm eye on budget when planning the big day to avoid starting their wedded life in debt.”

How many of these relationship-happiness-expenses are you and your significant other matching? Does spending money on your relationship make you happier?