Materialism and Marriage: Couple Profiles of Congruent and Incongruent Spouses


materialism, marriage, money, marital quality, financial distress


Previous research has shown that spousal materialism is negatively associated with marital satisfaction. However, researchers have yet to determine if this association is due to value differences between spouses or if materialism is problematic even when partners place a similar priority on money and material goods. Using 1,734 married couples, we developed a typology of couple materialism to investigate how congruent and incongruent patterns of materialism between spouses influence marital outcomes. We found that materialism had a negative association with marital quality, even when spouses were unified in their materialistic values. Marriages in which both spouses reported low materialism were better off on several features of marital quality when compared to couples where one or both spouses reported high materialism. Implications are drawn for therapists and financial counselors working with couples dealing with financial strain or conflict related to economic issues.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S, Dean, L. R., Larson, L.* & Busby, D. M. (2011). Materialism and Marriage: Couple Profiles of Congruent and Incongruent Spouses. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 10, 287-308.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor