Mo money, mo problems: Researchers say materialism hurts marriage

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Being richer isn’t always better, say researchers at Brigham Young University -- at least when it comes to marriage.

In a study of 1,734 married couples published this week in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, the researchers found that couples who say they value ‘having money and lots of things’ are more likely to have more money, and more likely to have unstable marriages.

As the Notorious BIG song ‘Mo money, mo problems’ puts it: ‘It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.’

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


Statistical analysis of the research showed that couples who say money is not important to them score 10% to 15% better on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than couples who are openly materialistic.

The study also found that couples in which only one partner is materialistic fare better than couples in which both partners are materialistic.

Gary Stollman, a psychotherapist and relationship expert who practices in Beverly Hills, wasn’t surprised. He too has seen a correlation between extreme wealth and marriage unhappiness, he says.

‘Things around money become very complicated,’ he said. ‘And one thing that comes along with a lot of money is a lot of power, and people become accustomed to yielding their will.’

Obviously, that’s not necessarily conducive to creating a happy marriage.

Still, Stollman said, it would be unfair to say that having money is the root of all marriage evil. He said extremes often tend to create conflict in families -- extreme wealth, extreme poverty or, yes, extreme materialism.


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