by Courtney Hutchison / abc.com
Focusing too heavily on the “for richer” part of the nuptial vows could spell disaster for a marriage, according to research published today by Brigham Young University.
In a survey of 1,700 married couples, researchers found that couples in which one or both partners placed a high priority on getting or spending money were much less likely to have satisfying and stable marriages.
“Our study found that materialism was associated with spouses having 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,” said Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life in Provo, Utah, and lead author of the study.
Researchers gauged materialism using self-report surveys that asked questions such as to what extent do you agree with these statements? “I like to own things to impress people” or “money can buy happiness.” Spouses were then surveyed on aspects of their marriage.
For one out of every five couples in the study, both partners admitted a strong love of money. These couples were worse off in terms of marriage stability, marriage satisfaction, communications skills and other metrics of healthy matrimony that researchers studied.
The one out of seven couples that reported low-levels of materialism in both partners scored 10 to 15 percent higher in all metrics of marital quality and satisfaction. Interestingly, the correlation between materialism and marital difficulties remained stable regardless of the actual wealth of the couple.
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Study authors and marriage experts noted that the findings probably have to do with the personality traits that go along with materialism. They will be published today in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy.
“The finding does not necessarily mean that it is the materialism itself that damages their relationships. … A materialistic orientation may be associated with other unidentified factors, such as childhood deprivation or neglect, which might play a more pivotal role in adult marital satisfaction,” said Don Catherall, professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago. “Of course, it may also simply mean that people who are more focused on making money have less energy and interest left to invest in their marriages.”