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Jay MacDonald

Fed studies romance, credit; finds couples that pay together, stay together

If you're inclined to accept dating advice from the Federal Reserve Board -- and I know you are -- its steamy new study, "Household Formation, Credit, and Trustworthiness," reads like "Fifty Shades of Grey" for the gray flannel set.

Throwing social propriety to the wind, Fed researchers Jane Dokko and Geng Li probed the innermost money secrets of some 35,000 married and cohabitating couples from 1999 through 2012 to "document substantial positive assortative mating along creditworthiness." Fed study: couples that pay together, stay together

My apologies if that frank language made you spit-take your apple-tini.

According to the draft of the report from the Fed, the FICO score may be your new erogenous zone; the closer yours matches that of your mate, the better your prospect for a long and successful bondage -- uh, marriage. Couples that enter l'affaire with a similar approach to credit card and loan debt stand a far better shot at celebrating golden anniversaries than those that don't -- in large part, I'm guessing, because they're less likely to argue about money.

Conversely, it's hardly breaking news that the No. 1 cause of divorce in America is friction over money. The study found that couples that differ drastically in how to manage debt may be headed to splitsville unless they work toward a common financial approach. Ideally with a Robin Thicke CD playing in the background.

Special note to Match.com and JDaters out there: The study says we've been tending to marry mates with mutual money mindsets in recent years, so you might want to update your search criteria.

The report says your sexy credit score reveals "unique and often unobserved information" about you, including your "default behavior" and your (wait for it) "tastes for debt." The researchers argue that your erogenous FICO is "arguably" a "proxy for trustworthiness," because it measures your appetite to "repay and honor a debt obligation," about which "so little" is "known empirically."

Who needs a cold shower?

OK, so E.L. James has little to worry about from the Fed. The study's chief finding - that couples who pay together, stay together -- hardly rates a 1 or 2 on the 50 shades of Grey scale. In fact, I was somewhat surprised to see the Fed even attempt to measure something as incalculable as the dynamics of human attraction.

As for handcuffs and avoidance of pain? Best to leave that to the experts at the IRS.

See related: Poll says heavy debt a turnoff, especially for women

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