Materialistic People Have Shitty Marriages

The results of a new study may not surprise you much: turns out, being obsessed with money and material things could be bad for your marriage.

ABC reports on the study by a BYU professor, who asked married people how much they agreed with statements like "I like to own things to impress people" and "money can buy happiness." Couples in which both spouses reported a "strong love of money" (which turned out to be one in five of the couples surveyed) scored worse than others in measures of marital stability, satisfaction, and communication. Those who are least materialistic score significantly better — and the results held true no matter how much actual money the couples had.

Experts point out that materialism itself may not cause marital failure. Maybe materialistic people suffered early trauma that harmed their ability to have relationships. Or maybe they're just assholes — says psychologist Susan Heitler,

People who are materialistic tend to be narcissistic and concerned with impressing people. They have a tendency to be anxious, depressed, have relatively poor relationship skills and have low self-esteem. These qualities in turn can cause marital problems.

Or maybe people try to drown their sorrows in shopping when they're relationships run into trouble? That seems to be the case with one of Heitler's clients, "who said that whenever she felt empty in her relationship, she would 'fill up the hole' by buying lots of things and this would make her feel better." Her husband apparently returned the stuff later, to her relief — and according to the study, one non-materialistic partner could "buoy the marriage, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction, communication and stability in marriages made of mismatched couples when compared to dual-materialistic ones." We should note here that there's a difference between serious money problems, which can put a strain on any marriage, and an obsession with keeping up with the Joneses and their Jaguar. The former are, sadly, more common than ever in this day and age — but the latter might be a red flag, unless you're prepared to be the one doing the returns.

Can't Buy Love: Materialism Kills Marriages [ABC]

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