Married couples who dwell too much on money and possessions could harm their marriage, says a new study suggesting that people who prioritize money are less likely to be satisfied in their matrimonial units.
In a research conducted by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, scientists found that materialism in a person was linked to lower levels of responsiveness to the spouse, as well as less emotional maturity, weak communication and higher levels of conflict. It was also revealed that love of money in one or both partners was associated with less satisfaction in the relationship and jeopardized the stability of the unit.
To come up with this conclusion, the investigators involved around 1,800 married couples all across the United States and asked them to fill out online questionnaires, which included a self-report on how much people valued having money and other possessions. In addition, the report included questions about couples' marital satisfaction, conflict patterns, communication, marriage stability and some other factors. Participants were also asked to rate their agreement with the phrase "Having money and lots of things has never been important to me." Individuals who answered positive to the statement were qualified as non-materialistic, while those who did not agree with the statement were categorized as materialistic.
When the results were analyzed it was revealed that one out of every five couples that took part in the study admitted that money was very important to them. Among these couples, who the experts said tended to be financially better off, money was often a reason for conflict in the marriage. Among the participants, 58.7 per cent were found to have either high or low levels of materialism. In that group, more than 24 per cent of both partners were non-materialistic, 34.1 per cent were both materialistic, and the rest had dissimilar levels of, with one partner ranking high and the other one low.
Couples who reported not caring about financial situation (both husband and wife) - about 14 per cent of the group - scored 10 to 15 per cent higher on marriage stability and other factors in a relationship quality when compared to those couples where only one or both spouses were materialistic. The scores of mismatched couples fell between those who were matched.
Principal author of the study, Jason Carroll, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, said in an interview that it is not the money itself, but the love of money that appears to be a source of all the problems. According to the findings, it is actually the couples who both value money very high that struggle the most (about 20 per cent of all participants). If one spouse cares less about money than the other one, then, the results suggest, the marriage tends to be much healthier and happier than if two materialists end up together.
According to Carroll, what was found in the research was a general pattern that being materialistic appears to be harmful to marriage, and it does not matter whether the materialistic spouse was the man or the woman. However, Carroll added, materialism is not simply black-or-white: some couples can care about possessions and finances a lot and at the same time maintain their relationship happy and strong, however breaking their materialistic thought would be helpful for most married couples, concluded the expert.
New findings are published in the American Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy.