Changes in Debt and Change in Marital Satisfaction

Personal Finance February 07, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF


Dew, J. (2007). The relationship between debt change and marital satisfaction change in recently married couples. Family Relations, 57 (1), 60-71.

Brief Description: Recently married couples report debt as one of their top concerns. This study assesses how changes in consumer debt (e.g., credit card debt) relate to changes in marital satisfaction. Consumer debt assumption is associated with recently married couples’ cutting back on spending time together and arguing about money more frequently. These changes predict declines in marital satisfaction. Paying off or remaining free from consumer debt is related to stable, or even increased, marital satisfaction.

Implications: Although some newlywed couples may bring substantial consumer debt into their marriage, they can enhance their marital happiness by paying it off. Couples who have no consumer debt at the beginning of their marriage should avoid accumulating it.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.