PROVO — The stars align in more ways than one when a couple falls in love and marries — husband and wife suddenly get their heads in the economic game as well.
The chairman of the Utah Commission on Marriage said research shows that married couples get more serious about employment, which can lead to promotions, and they’re more aware and responsive to financial responsibilities.
“Two people can live as cheaply as 1.6 people,” said Alan Hawkins, a professor in the department of family life at BYU. “There are those efficiencies you don’t get when you are single or moving in and out of relationships.”
Consumerism, on the other hand, can pose potential threats to an otherwise financially stable couple, whether their income is high or not. Utahns are not exempt from wanting to keep up with the Joneses.
“We are caught up in consumerism, and consumerism is about things, about material goods, about driving satisfaction and pleasure from those goods,” Hawkins said. “The instability of that is that there’s always more and better things coming along that we become very much attracted to.”
Societal spending pressures like this can cause a major wedge in relationships if couples aren’t careful.
“Disagreements between married couples about financial disagreements really are pretty potent and can really wear down the marriage,” he said, “so it’s important to come to agreement about those things to avoid divorce.”
As long as couples are consciously communicating and working out the financial conflicts, marriage boosts economically sensible behaviors and decisions. Efficiently using the available income can increase net worth, even in a greedy world.
“You take two people who are well-educated and well-off and put them in a stable marriage," Hawkins said, "(and) that actually increases (their) ability to participate in this consumerist society.”