26 October 2011
Materialism makes miserable marriages
by George Atkinson
Couples who say they enjoy "having money and lots of things" scored worse on a whole range of relationship quality measures, according to a study by scholars at Brigham Young University.
The new study, appearing in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, took in data from 1,734 married couples across the country. Each couple completed a relationship evaluation, part of which asked how much they value "having money and lots of things."
Statistical analysis showed that couples who say money is not important to them score about 10 to 15 percent better on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality. "Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at," said study author Jason Carroll. "There is a pervasive pattern in the data of eroding communication, poor conflict resolution and low responsiveness to each other."
In 20 percent of the couples in the study, both partners admitted a strong love of money.
Though these couples were better off financially, say the researchers, money was often a bigger source of conflict for them. "How these couples perceive their finances seems to be more important to their marital health than their actual financial situation," Carroll noted.
Interestingly, the findings also showed that materialistic couples' relationships were in poorer shape than couples who were mismatched and had just one materialist in the marriage. Perhaps the most surprising - and worrying - thing about the study was that materialism was only measured by self-evaluation.
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Source: Brigham Young University