A new study of over 1700 couples found a correlation between marital problems and the value spouses placed on “having money and lots of things.” According to the study, published by the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, couples who believe that money is not important scored up to 15 percent higher on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than more materialistic couples. Interestingly, couples with more money were more likely to have conflict over finances.
At the root of the problem, according to the study, is a focus on materialism. Although they may agree on the importance of money, and have plenty of it, those couples who prioritize financial status above relationship quality will most likely suffer. It seems almost cruel, but many couples who have more money end up with more financial strife during marriage, and in divorce money matters can become even worse.
Arizona is a community property state, meaning that virtually everything acquired in a marriage will be equally divided or allocated between the spouses. For couples with little or no property, debts, retirement accounts or toys, this is relatively straight-forward. For well-to-do couples (or those simply living beyond their means), the process is more complicated, and will likely cost more to resolve. Given today’s housing and employment crises, many formerly well-off couples find themselves divorcing and in the unenviable position of owning property that is “underwater” with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. Rather than fighting over equity, the recent trend is fighting over who takes the debt, or negative equity. Mortgage companies typically want to keep both parties on the loan, even after a divorce. Attempting to remove one party to a divorce from an upside-down mortgage takes knowledgeable legal assistance.
The study indicates that the best plan for marital happiness is prioritizing relationships over the importance of wealth. Even if couples agree on financial decisions, having monetary success as a focal point of a relationship is not a recipe for long-term stability. Although financial mismanagement can also cause marital strife, researcher Jason Carroll explains that the danger lies in seeking “happiness in possessions, not people.”
For family law matters or any other legal need, call the law office of Rowley Chapman Barney at 480-833-1113.