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Is socioeconomic status linked to marital unhappiness?

People in California might expect that people who are less well-off financially might also face more difficulties in their marriages. After all, conflicts over money can be a major part of marital stress and an eventual decision to divorce or separate. During the divorce process itself, financial conflicts can be particularly challenging and difficult to resolve. However, some research indicates that other issues may be more strongly linked to a likelihood of divorce although the jury is still out on marital conflict related to new financial stresses, sudden spending or economic crisis.

Researchers identified over 400 couples in a lower-income area of California and sent them an eight-item questionnaire on five occasions between 2009 and 2014. The couples, relatively newly married in 2009, were identified to take part in a study looking at marital satisfaction and socioeconomic status. Researchers found that around 60% of the couples identified themselves as very happy when initially married while 30% were moderately happy and 10% were unhappy. Many expect that marital satisfaction declines over time with the "honeymoon period" wearing off in years to come. However, the researchers found that the couples who were initially happy with their relationships were likely to remain so throughout the five-year period.

On the other hand, couples who were moderately happy were also likely to remain so with a somewhat higher rate of declining satisfaction. Couples who were already unhappy were the most likely to suffer serious dissatisfaction or to decide to divorce. Economic status had little effect on happiness overall.

Of course, changing circumstances or special pressures can add significant elements of stress to any relationship, and those financial issues can carry over into the divorce. A family law attorney may help a divorcing spouse negotiate a fair settlement on property division, spousal support and other key issues.

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