Essay: How Economic Factor Influence Couple's Relation

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Economic Factors and Relationships: Correlation and Analysis

The quality of a relationship is based upon many multidimensional and rather complex interactions, expectations, and behaviors, all governed by an equally complex set of personal perceptions and functions. Friction can be introduced into a relationship through various avenues, and one of the most common is through economic factors. These factors, which range from income to family roles to a couple's previous experience working through hardship can highlight and exacerbate both the positive and negative aspects and outcomes within the relationship. The various types of economic factors also effect different couples in different ways, and cannot be used as a predictor of relationship success. However, economic factors do significantly affect relationships to the extent that they should not be ruled out as a major influence in the quality of a couple's relationship, for better or worse. The dynamics of the relationship and the role that finances and economic responsibilities have on relationships is also affected by partners' sense of idealism, gender roles, and prior relationship and financial management experience. Together, these dynamics help to shape the relationship and each partners' role and perception of equality, happiness, and general satisfaction.

Predicting relationship quality is a very difficult task. Each relationship is different, and each partner brings unique and different skill sets and strengths and weaknesses to the table. Consistent insight can be gained in the ways that relationships are affected by economic factors in many ways. The exact role of economic factors depends on the specific dimensions of the relationship quality that is examined (Halliday and Lucas, 2010, 1146). For instance, certain correlations between affection, educational attainment, and economic success can be drawn from evidence showing a positive correlation between these elements (Halliday and Lucas, 2010, 1149). This means that the variables that affect the extent to which economic factors influence a relationship are many, and in order to better understand the raw effects of economic factors it is important to take into consideration the fact that other factors work to help cancel out or exacerbate the economic factors' roles in relationship success. Much of the research within this topic can be condensed to help underline the importance of considering how a wide range of variables affects relationship quality. Economic factors are only part of the picture, yet much research and emphasis is put upon these types of factors as catalysts for failure and friction within a relationship. Certainly these factors can play a role, but as one study points out, economic factors are not the most frequent source of conflict at home.

The fact that money related issues are often recurrent for younger couples as well as low income couples tends to skew the perception that these issues are the most frequent to arise in relationships (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 409). This common misconception that economic issues are at the heart of many relationship failures tends to contribute to the efforts of many relationship counselors in overemphasizing economic balance. This means that as couples spend more and more time and effort trying to solve their economic issues, they are often prone to ignoring more pertinent, longer-lasting issues within the relationship. This is to say that issues surrounding money are short-lived yet crop up rather commonly, creating the illusion that they are longer lasting, chronic problems. Younger couples that do not have the same resource and education base as older couples fall prey to this common misconception quite commonly, and therefore falsely tailor their conflict resolution skills around issues of economics instead of trust, well-being, and long-term expectations (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 412). This leads to an unhealthy overcompensation and can contribute to more problems in the mid to long-term. Certainly this is not to say that economic issues are not stressful, but many couples lose sight of other more important factors that can help a relationship succeed or fail.

It is just as easy for a couple to blame other problems and issues they are experiencing on economic shortcomings as it is to begin to understand the root of most relationship issues lie in the inability to effectively communicate. Evidence of this comes in the form of a correlation between education and effective communication within a relationship. Extrapolating this connection, it is not difficult to then make the connection between higher levels of education and the ability to successfully navigate economic hardship and challenges. This is to say that couples who have a more diverse or high-level educational background tend to suffer less from communications issues, which in turn help to take the emphasis off of economic issues as a catalyst for poor communication (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 410). It is no coincidence that lower income couples self-identify as sufferers of economic issues, when these same couples tend to come from less educated backgrounds. The Addo and Sassler study (2010) also suggests that a couple's ability to come to financial agreement on issues pertaining to everyday expenditures has more of an effect, positive or negative, on the quality and outcome of the relationship (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 411). Again, this points to the couple's capacity to successfully communicate their needs and their ability to understand each other's expectations relative to matters economic.

Financial Management

Resource management skills both economic and otherwise are key factors in many relationships. This means that a couple that can successfully manage their resources and help to keep financial turbulence to a minimum, are those who are typically happier. Interestingly, couples who pool their resources and have a shared sense of economic and financial duty and responsibility tend to self-identify as happier and have greater marital satisfaction than couples who keep their finances separate or semi-separate (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 414). Many relationships start with two people who may have been previously married or who have children from previous relationships. There are some interesting implications surrounding the overall quality of these relationships specifically as they relate to economic and financial factors. Couples who bring management skills from previous relationships tend to function more smoothly in their new relationship than those who are married for the first time and working within a dual income household (Addo and Sassler, 2010, 209). However, if each partner is bringing outside debts into a new relationship or marriage, these debts tend to influence the success of the new relationship as well.

Debt has a great amount of influence on relationships, particularly those that involve marriage. This is partially because as couples marry, most decide to take on each other's debts. One specific type of debt, consumer debt that is associated with credit cards and home or auto loans, is particularly effective in helping to predict the levels of happiness and satisfaction that a couple experiences. There is a positive correlation between the amount of debt a couple has as newlyweds and arguments over money (Dew, 2008, 68). This led to a decline in marital satisfaction among couples with larger consumer debts. Also, there is a direct negative correlation between high levels of consumer debt and the amount of time these couples spent together (Dew, 2008, 61). These results may help explain why couples who start with more debt tend to have higher instances of divorce and unhappiness than those who do not. This kind of debt is also a direct influence on the satisfaction of each partner within a marriage. But consumer debt is only one type of debt.

Student loans, which represent an entirely different kind of debt, impact relationships and a marriage in the same manner as consumer debt does. However, since higher levels of student debt are associated with higher levels of education, and couples with more highly educated partners tend to be less prone to divorce, student loan debt is not as toxic as consumer debt and cannot be used in the same way as a predictor of marriage or relationship instability (Dew, 2008, 66). Debt is debt, and couples affected by it will argue and fight more often about having to pay bills and feel the strain of financial burdens. But the presence of student loans in a relationship tends to act as a predictor of stability, exclusive of any consumer debt that each partner may have incurred before or during the marriage. Even the length of time that couples are married helps shape the ways in which economic factors such as debt influence the happiness and stability of the relationship, especially in the longer term.

Autonomy and gender roles in Relationships

Many couples bring their own, autonomous ideals into a relationship and in marriages especially, the first year or two is a learning experience for many partners. This is because the couple now has to retool their money management skills and as this occurs, many couples choose to pool their resources and assets (Burgoyne, Reibstein, Edmunds, and Dolman, 2007, 220). However, the methods in which couples accomplish this as well as the extent to which resources are pool and shared or remain the exclusive property of one or… [END OF PREVIEW]

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