Several recent studies over the last few years have suggested that money is not the key to happiness.
Now while it is admittedly hard to maintain a sunny disposition under conditions of grinding poverty, once basic needs are met such as food, shelter, clothing, and so on, having more and more money and more and more stuff apparently doesn’t do all that much to improve overall contentment.
In fact, it appears that having too much of a fixation on money can even make you worse off.
How does all this plays out in the context of marriage?
Researchers evaluated nearly 2,000 couples in the United States and found that those who claimed not to care much about money scored up to fifteen percent better on marriage quality than couples where one or both members did claim to care a lot about wealth and possessions.
Marriages where both members self-identified as materialistic suffered from poor communication, poor conflict resolution skills, low responsiveness, and instability.
Now, let’s not get too carried away by these results here.
Materialism comes in different degrees and flavors. We’re all materialistic to some extent. We’re none of us St. Francis of Assisi. I don’t know how many people are reading this blog from the discomfort of a hermit cave deep in the wilderness. My guess is not many.
I admit… I myself have occasional flights of fancy where I visualize myself awash under a veritable cascade of material wealth.
This is not to say that a shared appreciation of being able to afford nice things, provide for children, and take family vacations can’t be sources of pleasure and happiness.
What the study suggests, though, is that there’s a tipping point where loving money for its own sake becomes a source of conflict. It is when things go past this tipping point for one or both spouses that the marriage suffers.
No doubt, there are very wealthy individuals and couples who manage to be quite happy. But their wealth may be more a by-product of contentment rather than a source of it.
Money buys you comfort and convenience. And lots of it, to be sure!
But it seems that the old adage still rings true. You can’t buy happiness.
Although, in many instances, you can probably rent it, temporarily.