NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — About 34% of married couples lie, disagree or cover up when it comes to holiday spending, according to a new study.

"The holiday season amplifies the anxiety that couples can sometimes feel especially during uncertain economic times," said McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union President and CEO Shawn Gilfedder.

A McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union study found that 48% of married couples clash about how much to spend during the season.

"We find that some couples go into defense mode and avoid difficult yet necessary financial conversations," Gilfedder said. "Avoiding money talk can create tension in relationships that only honest communication and financial education can heal."

Fights or disagreements about money can come at a big price.

"It is very important to consider your partners spending habits before getting married," said Michael Stutman, president of the New York chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "Issues around money are proxies for issues about self worth, privacy and boundaries."

Couples who disagree about finances once a week are 30% more likely to get divorced than couples that report disagreeing about finances a few times a month, according to a Utah State University study.

When spouses fight several times per month, once a week, several times a week or almost daily, the risk increases up to 160%.

"Many of our cases at Mishcon de Reya have a common theme of significant discord where financial matters are concerned, which is just one of the many reasons why the process of entering into a prenuptial agreement plays a helpful role," Stutman said. "It also forces couples to directly face some of the more difficult issues that may arise throughout the relationship."

Of divorced and same-sex couples, only 25% admit to white lies around spending, indicating that gay and previously divorced couples may be more transparent when it comes to financial issues or that they may not comingle finances and are therefore not discussing financial issues.

"It's important for couples to discuss financial wellness issues on a consistent basis not only during the holidays in order to create a level of transparency year round," Gilfedder told MainStreet. "While everyday financial challenges can lead to miscommunication, procrastination, and ultimately some level of anxiety, true financial wellness requires discipline and honesty between both partners in order to ensure harmony."

Setting aside time on a routine basis to discuss spending and ways to improve and maximize saving could prevent deception around yuletide spending.

"Make financial preparedness and organization a part of your regular conversations," said Gilfedder. "Make it a game as a team or against your partner via some friendly competition. Determine key areas to target, establish the ground rules, and set reasonable goals. Most importantly, be enthusiastic, encouraging, and make sure to reward yourself and each other when you meet those goals."