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Study: Materialism and marriage don’t mix

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2011 | Divorce

Money can’t buy you happiness. That’s the saying, right? And, according to a recent study, that saying holds true for happiness in marriage. Researchers from Brigham Young University and William Paterson University conducted a study that suggests that marriages with materialistic partners might be likelier to end in divorce.

There are all kinds of marriages out there. In some cases opposites attract, and in others, those with similar values and personalities attract. A variety of marriages work, but the study shows that when two are similar in placing money and material things as top priority, those couples are less likely to be happily married.

How did the researchers conduct the study?

  • They surveyed 1,700 couples in order to determine the levels of materialism of individual partners.
  • They also surveyed the same couples about various relationship factors and their happiness in their marriages.

What did the study find?

  • Couples wherein both partners put heavy emphasis on material things had more consistent levels of dissatisfaction within their marriages.
  • Couples wherein only one of the spouses was relatively materialists were not as likely to be unhappy compared to marriages with two materialistic partners.
  • Twenty percent of the couples surveyed had both partners who were materialistic, according to the researchers’ standards.

The researchers behind this study and relationship professionals have a theory about the study’s findings. When a person’s top focus is making money or acquiring things, marriage takes a backseat to those priorities. When both partners are materialistic, neither one of them would bring the focus back onto the relationship in order to create a more stable marriage.

Materialism is often seen as a negative quality. But for some people, especially during certain times of their lives, financial success can be a healthy focus. Marriage is not for everyone, especially if it keeps them from pursuing their primary goals in life.

The study didn’t look at the rate of divorce for so-called materialistic couples. If money is such a big priority for two spouses who do get divorced, it’s easy to see how the very issue that motivates the dissolution of marriage would make the financial issues of child support, alimony and property division pretty important during the divorce process.


ABC News: “Can’t Buy Love: Materialism Kills Marriages,” Courtney Hutchison, Oct. 13, 2011


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