Financial problems can place strain on any marriage; this is not news to anyone who has been in a committed relationship. However, the marital effects of the nationwide economic strain caused by the Great Recession are just now becoming clear. For the “Survey of Marital Generosity, ” researchers collected data from a nationally representative sample of 1, 197 married Americans.
Researchers working on behalf of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia analyzed this data and released their results in a report, “The Great Recession and Marriage.”
The study found that almost one third of all couples surveyed reported that the economic downturn spanning from 2007-09 had caused marital stress. The greater the financial strain an individual faced, the more likely they were to indicate that they were at risk of divorce.
Among those who claimed to be unscathed by the recession, seven percent claimed to be at high risk of divorce. In contrast, those who had experienced two types of financial setbacks stated that they were at high risk of divorce about 20 percent of the time.
While almost a third of survey respondents indicated that the recession had placed strain on their marriages, an equal percentage of people surveyed indicated that the difficult economic climate prompted a renewed commitment to the marriage. Among couples who were thinking about divorce before the recession, 38 percent opted to postpone the separation.
Researchers suggest that this trend could have multiple causes. Some couples may have been coerced into staying together for pragmatic financial reasons – maintaining two separate households while relying on the income once used to support a single household can be difficult. Alternatively, the challenging financial climate may have prompted individuals to reconsider the role of marriage, thinking of it more as a quest for financial stability than a quest for a soul mate.
The decision to divorce is never an easy one, and rarely caused by a single factor. As this study reveals though, financial stressors can play a significant role. Contact us for questions about divorce or separation.