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money in rela

money in rela - A Publication of the National Council on...

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L AUREN M. P APP University of Wisconsin—Madison E. M ARK C UMMINGS University of Notre Dame* M ARCIE C. G OEKE -M OREY Catholic University of America** For Richer, for Poorer: Money as a Topic of Marital Conflict in the Home Guided by a family stress perspective, we exam- ined the hypothesis that discussing money would be associated with the handling of mari- tal conflict in the home. Analyses were based on dyadic hierarchical linear modeling of 100 hus- bands’ and 100 wives’ diary reports of 748 con- flict instances. Contrary to findings from previous laboratory-based surveys, spouses did not rate money as the most frequent source of marital conflict in the home. However, com- pared to nonmoney issues, marital conflicts about money were more pervasive, problematic, and recurrent, and remained unresolved, despite including more attempts at problem solving. Implications for professionals who assist couples in managing their relationships and family finances are discussed. The popular press cites money as one of the most common sources of couples’ disagreements (Betcher & Macauley, 1990; Bodnar & Cliff, 1991; Chatzky, 2007) and eventual divorce (Eng- lander, 1998). Similarly, the scholarly research also has indicated that money is a central issue to couple relationships, from the earliest years of partnerships (Marshall & Skogrand, 2004) through the process of divorce (Benjamin & Irv- ing, 2001). Furthermore, money tensions predict marital distress (Dew, 2007) and dissolution (Amato & Rogers, 1997). In light of accumulat- ing evidence that money is a major source of relationship concern with potentially serious im- plications for close partnerships, how couples handle money-related disagreements warrants empirical investigation. Theoretical Foundation The present study focused on the issue of finan- cial conflict because of its centrality to couple and family daily life, and further addressed the common wisdom that money as a topic of dis- agreement is particularly troublesome for mar- riages. However, despite the general acceptance that money is a significant source of marital con- flict, there has been little conceptual development of why this is the case. A notable exception is Conger’s family stress theory, which posits that economic pressure because of insufficient finan- cial resources creates stresses linked to heightened marital conflict (Conger, Ge, Elder, Lorenz, & Simons,1994).Familystressbecause ofeconomic pressure is linked to a wide array of family adjust- ment problems, including a linkage between economic pressure and marital functioning Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706 ([email protected]). *Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, 118 Haggar Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. **Department of Psychology, Catholic University of America, Cardinal Station, Washington, DC 20064.
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