Bank On It: Thrifty Couples Are The Happiest
Findings from Bank On It: Thrifty Couples Are The Happiest:
- Newlywed couples who take on substantial consumer debt become less happy in their marriages over time. By contrast, newlywed couples who paid oﬀ any consumer debt they brought into their marriage or acquired early in their marriage had lower declines in their marital quality over time.
- It does not matter if couples are rich or poor, working class or middle class. If they accrue substantial debt, it puts a strain on their marriage. Assets, on the other hand, sweeten and solidify the ties between spouses. Assets minimize any sense of ﬁnancial unease that couples feel, with the result that they experience less conﬂict.
- Assets also decrease the likelihood of divorce. Interestingly, the protective power of assets only works for wives, and for two reasons.
- Wives with more marital assets are happier in their marriages and, as a consequence, are less likely to seek a divorce.
- Assets make wives more reluctant to pursue a divorce because they realize that their standard of living would fall.
- Couples with no assets at the beginning of a 36 month period were 70 percent more likely to divorce than couples with $10,000 in assets.
- When individuals feel that their spouse does not handle money well, they report lower levels of marital happiness. In fact, in one study, feeling that one’s spouse spent money foolishly increased the likelihood of divorce 45 percent for both men and women. Only extramarital aﬀairs and alcohol/drug abuse were stronger predictors of divorce.
- Materialistic spouses are also more likely to suﬀer from marital problems … Materialistic individuals report more ﬁnancial problems in their marriage and more marital conﬂict, whether they are rich, poor, or middle-class.
- Conﬂict over money matters is one of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared with disagreements over other topics, ﬁnancial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conﬂict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands. Perhaps because they are socialized to be providers, men seem to take ﬁnancial conﬂict particularly hard.
- Not surprisingly, conﬂict over money matters predicts divorce better than other types of disagreement. For example, for husbands, ﬁnancial disagreements were the only type of common disagreement that predicted whether they would divorce. For wives, both ﬁnancial and sexual disagreements predicted divorce, but ﬁnancial disagreements were a much better predictor … couples who reported disagreeing about ﬁnances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about ﬁnances a few times per month.