PROVO, Utah, October 13, 2011 ( – A study by researchers at Brigham Young University focusing on marriage stability and relationship quality found that materialistic couples may have more money, but also have more marital problems.

An analysis of data collected from 1,734 couples showed that even among spouses who shared the same materialistic values, “materialism had a negative association with marital quality.”

Each couple completed a relationship evaluation, part of which asked how much they value “having money and lots of things.”

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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.”

One in five couples that participated in the study acknowledged that money was very important to them. Among these couples, who the researchers pointed out tended to be financially better off, money was often a source of conflict in the relationship.

“How these couples perceive their finances seems to be more important to their marital health than their actual financial situation,” noted Carroll.

Carroll remarked that the study’s overall findings were somewhat surprising because materialism was only measured by self-evaluations.

“Sometimes people can deceive themselves about how important their relationships are to them,” Carroll said. “It’s helpful to step back and look at where you focus your time.”

The full study, titled “Materialism and Marriage: Couple Profiles of Congruent and Incongruent Spouses,” was published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy on October 13th.