The Key To Marital Bliss In The Midst Of Financial Woes

November 5, 2015  |  

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Nothing can shake up an otherwise wonderful marriage like financial distress. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis cites “money issues” as the third leading cause of divorce. However, financial difficulty doesn’t have not have to mean that the end is near for you and your sweetie.

According to a recent study, which was published in the Journal of Personal Relationships, simple expressions of gratitude have the power to “protectively buffer marital quality from the negatives effects of financial stress.”

“We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” said the study’s co-author Ted Futris, who is an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Data for the study was collected through a telephone survey during which 468 married individuals were quizzed about their financial well-being, expressions of spousal gratitude and demand/withdrawal communication. Researchers found that expressed gratitude between spouses was “the most consistent significant predictor of marital quality.”

“It goes to show the power of ‘thank you,'” said the study’s lead author Allen Barton, who is a postdoctoral research associate at UGA’s Center for Family Research. “Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes.”

Perhaps a “thank-you” per day helps to keep the divorce attorney away?

“Importantly, we found that when couples are engaging in a negative conflict pattern like demand/withdrawal, expressions of gratitude and appreciation can counteract or buffer the negative effects of this type of interaction on marital stability,” Futris continued. “When couples are stressed about making ends meet, they are more likely to engage in negative ways–they are more critical of each other and defensive, and they can even stop engaging or withdraw from each other, which can then lead to lower marital quality.”

For this particular study, gratitude was measured regarding the degree to which participants felt appreciated by their spouse, valued by their spouse, and acknowledged when they did something right.

“All couples have disagreements and argue,” Futris said. “And, when couples are stressed, they are likely to have more arguments. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don’t is not how often they argue, but how they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”

Food for thought.

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