A plush bank account and plenty of material possessions might seem to some people like the cornerstone of a successful, lasting marriage, but researchers from Brigham Young University beg to differ. A new study finds that couples who value money and material things above anything else have less stability in their marriages and more problems than other couples.

Researchers had 1,734 married couples complete a relationship evaluation for the study. One of the questions asked how much they valued “having money and lots of things.”

The researchers found that couples who did not place a high value on money and material possessions ranked 10 to 15 percent higher in marriage stability as well as other measures of relationship quality than couples where one or both partners were materialistic.

“Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at,” said Jason Carroll, lead author of the study.  “There is a pervasive pattern in the data of eroding communication, poor conflict resolution and low responsiveness to each other.”

Of the participating couples, one in five had two partners who strongly valued money. While these couples were usually doing very well financially, money was also a high-stress topic for them, too.

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

These couples’ marriages, the study found, were typically in worse shape than those who had just one materialistic spouse.

“Sometimes people can deceive themselves about how important their relationships are to them,” Carroll said. “It’s helpful to step back and look at where you focus your time.”

Source: Brigham Young University

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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