Tracing the Common Source of Marital Discord
Every New Year begins with adopting new resolutions and shedding bad habits.
We all tend to identify the same bad habits, including everything from cigarettes, to overindulgence, to inactivity. A spouse is not a bad habit. Yet for couples on the rocks, one of the biggest New Year’s resolutions is resolving not to give up on their marriage.
January is often referred to as the "Divorce Month."
This is because it is a difficult month for many marriages on the rocks. USA Today suggested in January of 2019 that perhaps the greatest number of divorce filings occur in January in order to avoid ruining Christmas festivities for the children.
MarketWatch corroborates the reality of increased divorce filings in January, noting that in addition to keeping the family together for one last holiday season, it's difficult to get into court due to reduced hours over the holidays.
But many spouses, instead of heading to divorce court, decide to add relationship reconciliation to their list of New Year’s resolutions. With this worthy goal, a new year can be a new beginning, as both partners resolve to rebuild respect, trust, and relational commitment.
Mending Your Marriage
Kira S. Birditt and Toni C. Antonucci, in "Till Death Do Us Part" (2012), reviewed the impact of divorce on the wellbeing of partners, and other affected individuals. They noted that studies in the research they described illustrated the complexity and diversity of marriage and divorce. Yet they also noted the significance of the marital relationship, describing this bond as "one of the most influential relationships in adulthood, with vast implications for well-being." They acknowledge prior research indicating that higher quality marriages that produce higher levels of marital happiness are linked with less physical and psychological problems.
But what about the unhappy marriages?
Couples experiencing marital discord often manage to put up a good front through holiday gift-giving and even a New Year’s Eve toast, only to face the music on Jan. 1, when an important decision must be discussed.
For many of these couples, the answer is not shedding their spouse along with other "bad habits" in the New Year. There are a variety of issues to address in pursuit of saving the relationship. One issue frequently linked with relational discord, is also an increased source of stress over the holidays and also a commonly made New Year’s resolution, it has to do with money.
In Marriage, Money Matters
Ashley B. LeBaron et al. in "Money Over Marriage" (2018) explored the negative relationship between materialism and marital satisfaction. They adopted a research-based definition of materialism as "the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions." Recognizing the fact that this association is well established, they sought to dive deeper into the factors that could explain the link.
Based on the "Incompatibility of Materialism and Children Model and Marital Paradigms Theory," Le Baron, et al. investigated how perceived importance of marriage potentially mediated the link between marital satisfaction and materialism. In a sample of 1310 married participants, they found materialism to be negatively linked with perception of marriage importance. They explained that this link provided a partial explanation for why materialistic individuals might be less satisfied with their marriage.
Apparently, partners who highly value material goods and money tend to value marriage less. The authors suggest that perhaps the pursuit of materialism decreases the amount of time available for interpersonal communication and intimacy, or perhaps materialism is linked with a self-centered lifestyle that does not prioritize relationship-building or relational maintenance.
In light of such findings, couples might view January as a time to invest in financial New Year’s resolutions, which could mean forgoing some materialistic pursuits, choosing instead, increased investment in each other.
Resolve to Reconcile
Whether in January or June, saving a marriage is a resolution worth making.
Reviewing the significance of lifestyle choices, which include spending and saving, might reveal habits worth changing in order to rebuild financial stability, and relationship quality— both New Year’s resolutions worth keeping.
This article was first published in Psychology Today.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 4,000 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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