This Valentine’s Day, skip the flowers and the chocolates.
Instead, if you want a better shot at true, lasting love, learn to control your spending and be sure you’ve chosen a career that’s a perfect match.
Psychologists advise those looking to improve their love life to examine how their career choices and spending philosophy impact their relationships. Couples know money is often the root of arguments, but they’re still caught off guard when it comes to matchmaking their finances and career choices with their perfect mate.
But it turns out that decisions you take in two of the biggest parts of your life can play a huge role in helping you build a happy long-term relationship.
“In some instances, a financial betrayal can be the same as an affair,” said Fran Davis, a psychologist and career counsellor who works with Harvard Business School students and alumni.
Lawyers, farm workers and those in education are more likely to choose similar partners.
Here’s a look at five new strategies for making career and financial decisions that will boost your love life:
Avoid the perfect career match
It might seem as if being in a relationship with someone on exactly the same career path is ideal. After all, you’ll have so much more to talk about with your partner and some common career goals.
That’s all great during the early, loved-up phase but can backfire spectacularly in the long-term. Couples in the same profession — even if they aren’t directly competitive with one another at work — are more likely to drift apart primarily because they stop pursuing common interests in their leisure time. After all, they’ve already got the biggest thing in their lives — work — in common.
The job can become the big thing in the relationship.
Lawyers, farm workers and those in education are more likely to choose similar partners while those in finance, mining and construction were less likely, according to research from Priceonomics, a data services firm that used US Census data to make the calculation.
But eventually, couples in the same profession can have a more difficult time achieving work life balance, said Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire who conducted research on same-career couples. “The job can become the big thing in the relationship” crowding out other conversations, said Kinman.
Those in advertising and marketing are often attracted to musicians, while police officers are drawn to investment bankers.
Instead, think complementary professions
In the last few years, researchers have started tracking which professions make a great pair. For example, those in advertising and marketing are often attracted to musicians, while police officers are drawn to investment bankers, according to research from The Grade, a scroll-through type dating app that tracked 450,000 ‘likes’ and ‘skips’ from its users.
And, dating site eHarmony.com which more carefully matches daters according to a multitude of preferences and shared interests or values, found that people in some fields are most often matched with or attracted to people in specific fields. For instance, eHarmony data found the top 10 compatible matches and communicators, including: male lawyers with female architects; female lawyers with male pilots; male researchers with female pharmacists; and — defying some other data — male business executives with female business executives.
Clergy, optometrists and engineers are the most likely to stay married.
Clergy, optometrists and engineers are the most likely to stay married regardless of their partner’s career path, according to Michael Aamodt, professor emeritus at Radford University who used 2000 US Census data.
Plan ahead at work
We’ve all heard complaints about absent partners, who are married to their work. It’s one thing to regularly work demanding hours, but it can up-end your personal life when those extra hours are unexpected.
Worktime instability can actually negatively impact your relationships more than predictable long working hours (think a job where you always come home around 20:00 versus one where you have to cancel your anniversary dinner an hour before because suddenly you have to work until midnight).
Constantly rearranging your schedule last minute can make it “more painful and stressful to miss family things”, said Davis. It may also send a message to a partner that work always comes first, she added. Employees in banking or professional services firms, can feel especially vulnerable in their ability to plan ahead.
To keep relationship stress at a minimum, Davis recommends updating partners as soon as possible of potential work conflicts and taking initiative when it comes to rescheduling plans.
Skip the ‘big, fat wedding’
For a happy marriage, splurging on the big day is unnecessary, said Andrew Francis-Tan, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta in the US who conducted research on wedding spending and marriage duration.
The researchers surveyed 3,000 married people and found that those who spent more on the wedding had shorter marriages. It’s not certain whether spending more was a cause for divorce or simply a correlation. In the US a survey of 1,000 engaged women found that 32% of couples went into credit card debt after their wedding, according to wedding website TheKnot.
In Asia, in Malaysia and India for example, it’s common for families to end up in debt after hosting a couple’s multi-day wedding celebration. To be cautious, “couples who are getting married should reduce their wedding expenditures to levels that are manageable,” Francis-Tan said.
Find your credit score soul mate
Turns out that your credit score matters in more ways than you think. A 2015 study using data from the United States Federal Reserve showed that couples who were a match in their credit scores, could expect to be a better match romantically. On the other hand, couples that had a larger gap between their credit scores were more likely to separate.
Credit scores give insight into an “individual’s general trustworthiness and commitment to non-debt obligations”, the researchers wrote. It’s also possible to use a partner’s credit score to understand more about their personal values and their “underlying trustworthiness” according to the research.
Additionally, when speaking about delicate financial matters such as creditworthiness, avoid dwelling on your or your partner’s financial situation. “Keep the other person apprised of what’s going on without spreading too much anxiety,” said Kinman who adds that family rules about handling finances should be decided early on in a relationship.
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