Archive for June, 2011

Thrifty Couples are the Happiest

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Research from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project suggests that consumer debt assaults marriages and “plays a powerful role in eroding the quality of married life.” In fact, if spouses argue about finances once a week, their marriage is 30 percent more likely to end in divorce than those who fight about money less frequently.

According to Jeffrey Dew, an assistant professor of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University and the author of the Marriage Project’s report Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest, “[c]onsumer debt fuels a sense of financial unease among couples, and increases the likelihood that they will fight over money matters; moreover, this financial unease casts a pall over marriages in general, raising the likelihood that couples will argue over issues other than money and decreasing the time they spend with one another….”

Consumer debt, Dew says, is also “an equal-opportunity marriage destroyer. It does not matter if couples are rich or poor, working class or middle class. If they accrue substantial debt, it puts a strain on their marriage.”

By comparison, assets “sweeten and solidify the ties between spouses. Assets minimize any sense of financial unease that couples feel, with the result that they experience less conflict….”

Fighting over money changes the center of gravity in a marriage. “[C]onflict over money matters is one of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared with disagreements over other topics, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics… ”

Newly wed couples can start out on the right foot steering clear of materialism and consumer debt; they “are much more likely to enjoy connubial bliss.”

The Second and Third Time Around

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Leo Averbach, the author of a powerful book on the pain and suffering of divorce, believes that the reason second and third marriages fail, is “there is less glue holding the marriage together.”

Averbach, the author of Break Up, was married for twenty years and the father of three children when his marriage failed. The emotional trauma of the experience gave him the material for his widely praised book about his experience.

“I think that the major factor affecting the break up of second and third marriages is that there is less glue holding the marriage together. Marriage, as an institution, is primarily intended as framework for raising children, for building a family. The great majority of children born to married couples are born during their first marriage, when the parents are up to about thirty-five years old.” Averback suggests that most couples in second marriage do not have common children to bind them together in a positive sense and, in a negative sense, to force them to stay together if the marriage goes down hill. Because the children are not there, the element of family is not as central, so the desire to preserve the family – and make the necessary compromises – is not there. Overall, therefore, there is less commitment.

Statistics suggest that in the United States, about 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end on the rocks.

Social Media: A New Card in the Divorce Deck

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

According to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), more divorce cases now involve evidence gleaned from social media, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and Photobucket.

As long ago as the days of the hotel divorce (where a private eye and his photographer captured an adulterous couple in an indiscreet moment) photographic evidence has often played a part in divorce actions; but now “all they need to do is go online to find evidence on profile pages, wall comments, status reports, and photo files. Incriminating photos and other information … is not usually the image the opposing parent wanted to portray before a judge and the evidence can definitely affect alimony disputes and custody fight. A parent could easily lose custody, alimony, or both due to inappropriate behavior online.”

Jason Krafsky and his wife Kelli, the authors of Facebook and Your Marriage, believe it is not the media site that creates the problem, “it’s the user’s behavior.”

“Lack of boundaries is a huge issue,” says Krafsky. “If you don’t have good boundaries you have no business being on Facebook or any other cyberspace social networking or game sites. It’s just too risky. The other issue is when people get caught for crossing the line they usually don’t handle it well. Whether it is Facebook or something else, establishing personal boundaries is a part of everyday life with friends, co-workers, clients, and extended family members. Setting up boundaries around your marriage relationship is key to proactively protecting yourself, your spouse, your marriage, your kids, and your reputation.”