Materialism Can Take a Toll on Marriage

Many marriage vows contain the words, “for richer or poorer.”  A new study by Brigham Young University and William Patterson University found that when both spouses’ emphasis is on the “for richer” part of their vows, there is a good possibility there will be trouble in the marriage.

The two university’s researchers surveyed 1,700 married couples with the intent of gauging the couple’s materialism.  These couples were asked whether they agreed with certain statements concerning materialism, such as “I like to own things to impress people” or “Money can buy happiness.”

The study’s lead author, Jason Carroll, a professor at BYU, said researchers found that materialistic couples had lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity.  “Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction and less marriage stability."  Researchers found those couples who had little interest in money scored 10 to 15 percent higher in the quality and satisfaction of their marriage.  Carroll also found the correlation between interest in money and marital satisfaction remained the same regardless of how wealthy the couple was.

The researchers discovered, however, when only one spouse had materialistic tendencies and the other spouse didn’t, the materialism of the one spouse did not negatively affect the marriage.  According to researchers, the nonmaterialistic spouse stabilized the marriage, and allowed the couple to balance each other out and improve their marital quality and satisfaction.

Although materialism may be a point of contention in a marriage, the authors want to stress that materialism alone isn’t to blame for marriage problems, as there are many other  issues that can negatively affect a marriage.  However, the researchers do feel that the materialistic tendencies of one or both spouses can play a large role in marriage dissatisfaction and marriage quality that in time could lead to divorce.

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