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Money can’t buy Love: Financial stress may bring couples closer

Money can't buy Love Financial stress brings couples closer

Disagreements happen even in the best of relationships. And when you are sharing living space with someone; arguments are bound to arise. Take it up another level and now consider sharing your entire life with someone and conflict is unavoidable.

Couples fight. And mostly what triggers conflict is — money.

A relationship is not always going to be smooth sailing, but how we respond to external stressors could either deepen the bond we share with our significant other or drive us apart.  A new research published in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues studies the effects of financial strain on a relationship.

The study aimed at finding whether problems associated with money in a relationship could lead to Bonadaptation i.e. adapting to one’s circumstances to increase wellbeing. The results suggest that while monetary problems have long been believed to pull people apart; the reality is quite the opposite. Financial stress was found to bring couples closer and bring about positive changes in the relationship.

Ashley LeBaron, a doctoral student in the University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, conducted the study before COVID-19 swept across the globe but now with the looming recession and people already experiencing the ripple effects of economic meltdown — it is more relevant than ever.

The scientists analyzed commitment between couples by observing data from Building Strong Families (BSF) samples and primarily focused on unmarried, low-income couples, expecting their first child. The researchers presumed that the effects of financial stress would be more pronounced in low-income households. Apart from commitment, another factor in measuring the success of the relationship was co-parenting.

The study findings suggest that couples who engaged in relationship maintenance behaviors fare better in the face of financial uncertainty. These behaviors include positivity, openness, assurances, a strong social network, and sharing responsibility for various tasks such as household chores.

In addition to the couples showing love and affection towards each other, a defining factor was receiving financial support from family and friends. Moreover having health insurance, a strong support network, and having a child by only one partner; contributed to the relationship’s success.

Ashley LeBaron commented, “Financial stressors happen to everyone. They happen more often and to a greater extent to some people than others, but everyone experiences financial stress. If they use that stress as a catalyst to make positive changes in the relationship, it can be an opportunity to grow closer together, instead of having that stress tear you apart.”

The research shows that money plays an important role in relationships but practicing relationship maintenance behaviors can not only help couples weather the storm of financial hardships but soar and emerge on the other side stronger than before.

Coruscating diamond rings may look pretty, but they will not make your beloved stay forever. So when your bank balance is not something to boast of; stock up on love and appreciation for your partner.

Written by Farwa Batool

MSc Biotechnology.
Writer and a mom of two beautiful daughters.


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    • It is one of the leading causes of divorce along with infidelity and incompatibility. Still some couples overcome even extramarital affairs and emerge stronger; the same is true for financial stress. Yes, it may break a relationship but it also gives the couple an opportunity to deepen the bond they share.

      The study does not negate the other aspect of financial stress which is divorce; it simply observes that financial troubles are not a nail in the coffin of a relationship and it ultimately comes down to the people and their individual personalities rather than outside stressors to keep a relationship afloat.

      Right now with most of staring down joblessness or monetary troubles of some kind should we expect social networks to crumble? Of course not. The study shows there is hope for a relationship to thrive even in the times of economic uncertainty.

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