The Dangerous Effects of Materialism on Marriage
1 year ago
A new study shows that when it comes to love, more money does mean more problems
Before you rejoice that you've found a partner who loves living the glamorous life as much as you, consider these surprising findings from a new study from Brigham Young University: couples that are materialistic have less marital satisfaction and more relationship problems.
Turns out that romantic duos comprised of individuals who covet goods and money were 10 to 15 percent less happy than those who did not, regardless of income level. The study, which looked at 1,734 married couples, did not support what study author Jason Carroll, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, believed was true. "We thought it would be the incongruent or unmatched pattern that would be most problematic, where one's a spender and one's a saver," Carroll told LiveScience. "Our study found that it's the couples where both spouses have high levels of materialism that struggle the most."
Though they did not test why materialism can harm marriages, the researchers suspect it is because two people driven by a need for things and status may make bad financial decisions that can build debt, anxiety and stress.
Carroll suggests that men and women break their materialistic thinking to save their relationships. Easier said than done, suggests Jacquette M. Timmons, a New York-based financial coach and author of Financial Intimacy who focuses on behavioral finance to bridge the areas of money, choice and relationships. "The process of acquiring and having things feeds something in all of us. So before someone can be 'less materialistic,' he/she must first understand why having or acquiring things is important to them in the first place. Identify that and you'll have the insight needed to know what to change and how."
The solution hinges on jointly breaking money's hold over a marriage through communication. "Don't be confused by thinking that when you discuss money [with your partner] that you are talking about money exclusively. Talking about money is really an exercise in navigating emotions and negotiating information," says Timmons, who says 60 percent of her clients are couples. "And it is this combination that makes talking about money a lot of work. But it so well worth it when you get on the other side of the conflict!"