Couples Can Pay a Price for Materialism

Money often a significant source of conflict for those who have it, study shows

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Materialistic couples may have more money, but they also have more relationship problems, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that focusing on money and possessions can take a toll on couples' happiness and stability.

In conducting the study, investigators from Brigham Young University analyzed relationship evaluations completed by more than 1,700 married couples across the United States. The participants were asked how much value they placed on "having money and lots of things."

The study, published in the Oct. 13 issue of the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, found that couples who believe that money is not important scored up to 15 percent higher on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than materialistic couples.

"Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at," lead author, Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life, said in a university news release. "There is a pervasive pattern in the data of eroding communication, poor conflict resolution and low responsiveness to each other."

One in five couples that participated in the study acknowledged that money was very important to them. Among these couples, who the researchers pointed out tended to be financially better off, money was often a source of conflict in the relationship.

"How these couples perceive their finances seems to be more important to their marital health than their actual financial situation," noted Carroll.

The study results also showed that when both members of a couple are materialistic, the relationship is in more trouble than when just one person places a high value on money and possessions.

More information

The American Psychological Association provides more insight on problems linked to materialism.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: Brigham Young University, news release, Oct. 11, 2011

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