Eying that new car, new house or those Jimmy Choo patent leather pumps a little too closely could spell doom and gloom for your marriage according to a new study–and not for the reason you might think.
While it’s true that money is the number one reason why couples fight, it can be easy to assume those arguments are based on things like how much money those new shoes really did cost, but researchers have found it actually has more to do with our personalities around acquiring “stuff” than our actual spending habits.
Published today in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, a survey of 1,700 married couples revealed that those partners who placed a high priority on spending money, trying to impress people with purchases and/or thinking that money can buy happiness were much less likely to have a happy marriage.
Lead research author, Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life in Provo, Utah explained:
Our study found that materialism was associated with spouses having lower levels of responsiveness and less emotional maturity. Materialism was also linked to less effective communication, higher levels of negative conflict, lower relationship satisfaction, and less marriage stability.
Apparently, a strong love of money was associated with lower levels of marriage stability, marriage satisfaction and communications skills, while those who reportedly had weaker ties to money scored 10 to 15% higher in all measurements of a happy marriage. Interestingly enough, the wealthier a couple was didn’t change how materialistic they were–it was the desire for materialism that actually affected relationships versus having a lot of possessions.
Susan Heitler, a Denver-based clinical psychologist told ABC news:
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.
All of this is interesting because I used to live in an Atlanta suburb where it became easy to spot the couples who were heading for divorce. Not to stereotype, but from what I saw, those who were trying the hardest to keep up with the Joneses by bringing home the expensive luxury cars, constantly doing renovations to their over-sized houses and always dressing to impress (even for a neighborhood barbecue) were the ones who eventually had splintered marriages. It was pretty easy to tell these people were unhappy, even with their fancy Mercedes and Gucci bags.
Yes, it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but according to this, certain personality traits don’t either.