Materialistic Marriages Have More Problems

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A strong investment in material possessions doesn’t bode well for a harmonious married life — or any long-term partnership for that matter. A recent study confirms that relationships where acquiring nice things is a top priority tend to have a multitude of problems that less materialistic unions simply don’t have.

Jason Carroll, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, tells Livescience that when beginning this research, he assumed that “incongruous” couples would have the most marital disputes. So perhaps a union between a very materialistic husband and a not-so materialistic wife. Caroll found that this was in fact not true, and that materialism proved toxic for couples regardless of if both couples were on the same page with their acquisitions. He told the publication that “couples where both spouses have high levels of materialism [will] struggle the most.”

Caroll and his researchers determined that even people who were well-off tended have anxieties about money, which can “erode” relationships. His research also concluded that the impacts on the relationship manifested the same regardless of whether the more materialistic spouse was a man or a woman. He observed:

“What we found was a general pattern that materialism seems to be harmful to marriage,” Carroll said. “It’s probably best described as an erosion effect …Even when it’s a shared value, [materialism] seems to have an additive effect,” he said. “It seems to compound the problem.”

While Caroll and his researchers couldn’t conclude exactly how materialism chips away at married life, a few theories have surfaced regarding finances and a partner’s investment in the relationship. Materialism does cause spouses to spend beyond their means and accrue debt with can spur more stress between couples. Carroll also noted that those who are fixated on frantic buying spend less time “nurturing” their relationship because they are often so preoccupied with new possessions:

“They simply don’t give relationships the same priority and attention as non-materialistic spouses,” Carroll said.

Something good to keep in mind if your partner is scrabbling to get the new iPhone 4s today.

(photo: Shutterstock)