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Why The Greedy Shouldn’t Marry Each Other

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Does your husband or wife want a bigger house or car? Do you? This is one instance where the couple may be better off if they disagree, especially over money. The Juggle, our sister blog on WSJ.com, says a new study by scholars at Brigham Young University looked at more than 1,700 married couples across the U.S. and found that two materialistic spouses are actually not better than one. That runs contrary to popular opinion.

The study, just published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, suggests it may not pay to have a partner in crime on Black Friday. It said that couples who say money is not important to them score about 10% to 15% better on measures of “relationship quality,” which means they fight less and have more stable relationships. Those who both want more, more, more and share material ambitions fared worse: 20% worse than couples with just one materialistic partner.

But some say it’s not the materialism itself that hurts the relationships, but the feelings of worthlessness behind it. Studies have consistently shown that the more materialistic people are, the less happy they are. Research suggests highly materialistic people have lower self-esteem, lower feelings of belonging, and lower feelings of power, says L.J. Shrum, president of the Society for Consumer Psychology. “Thus, it may be the interaction of two people who suffer from these feelings that is driving the marital discord, and not the materialism,” he says.

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    • This used to be called ambition. And, once in this country, we also used to have immense patriotism. I guess some things just come and go.

    • A reversal of fortune early in life (from average to miserable)
      will help to happiness later.Of course, incremental improvements
      is a must.Good companionship and a no need to worry daily about
      bills helps a lot.Since one spends a large part of ones life earning a living, satisfaction at whatever one does counts a lot
      too.
      So, get a degree, good job, beautiful wife, get drafted followed
      by Dear John, and start again!

    • I will squirt on Kathy, with pleasure.

    • Good luck to you Mary — because if ever any serious misfortune enters your life, I suspect you and your spouse will crumple like wet rice paper. Your money may buy you happiness, but not strength of character. I say that as half of a double-income-no-kids couple — we used to lavish ourselves with gifts (european vacations, lots of expensive toys). But, for reasons too complicated to go into in a comment, we grew up. I’d say “thank god”, but I’m an athiest, so I’ll have to leave it at “better late than never”.

      I’d wish the same for you, except it takes guts, and a lot more discipline and strength than what’s required simply showing up for work. As I said – good luck to you. But just maybe, if your luck ever turns, you might experience the satisfaction of finding yourself a better person one day, rather than finding a better spa vacation.

    • Yes happiness cannot be bought.

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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