2011 October 17 Monday
Materialism Works Against Happy Marriage?

Money can't buy you love.

New research to be published Oct. 13 confirms The Beatles' lyrical hypothesis and finds that "the kind of thing that money just can't buy" is a happy and stable marriage.

Scholars at Brigham Young University studied 1,734 married couples across the country. Each couple completed a relationship evaluation, part of which asked how much they value "having money and lots of things."

The researchers' statistical analysis showed that couples who say money is not important to them score about 10 to 15 percent better on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than couples where one or both are materialistic.

"Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at," said Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life and 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."

In a way this makes sense. The ideal combination of traits would be the desire to work hard, the desire to save, and the lack of desire to own things. You'll make more money, keep more of it, and need less of it. Your desires won't be out of whack with your capabilities.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 October 17 09:22 PM  Economics Family

Half Sigma said at October 18, 2011 7:09 AM:

The takeaway isn't that money can't buy love or happiness, but rather that less materialistic people are happier. There's a subtle but very important difference there.

Demolition Man said at October 18, 2011 8:52 AM:

This is very true. Less materialistic people have the luxury of being able to feel comfortable and safe in the now, without their minds being trapped in the past and future. Less materialistic minds can concentrate on the present, and their egos do not take all their energy.

However, it seems to me that if both the husband and the wife are equally materialistic and ambitious, then maybe they might understand each other. Macbeth and his wife were getting along very well at the beginning, but she abandoned him (by choosing to die) only when it became clear that they were not going to stay in power. Bernard Madoff and his wife were getting along very well while the pyramid scheme was working.

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