Less materialistic spouses are more likely to find themselves in happier marriages than those who dwell too much on money and possessions, a trio of US researchers say. In findings published Thursday, the team led by Jason Carroll at Brigham Young University in Utah explored the impact that value differences about materialism could have on a marriage. Previous studies limited themselves only to materialism in itself, and not the importance that husbands and wives placed on material things.
From data collected from 1,734 couples, they concluded that, even among spouses who shared the same materialistic values, “materialism had a negative association with marital quality.” “Marriages in which both spouses reported low materialism were better off on several features of marital quality when compared to couples where one or both spouses reported high materialism,” they wrote. Besides money woes, materialistic couples also had less effective ways of communicating, and more negative ways of resolving conflicts.
Giving practical purpose to their work, the researchers said their findings supported a notion that a couple’s financial problems were more likely the outcome of behavior or attitude issues, and not just simply a lack of money. The findings appeared in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, a scholarly publication for marriage counsellors and other working with couples in rough relationship waters.