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Factors Affecting Relationship Success

The different factors that can affect the success of a relationship or the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce still appear to be popular areas of study for researchers. While some of these factors can seem quite obvious, others would appear on the face of it to have less of a direct link to relationship happiness.


Impact of Brand Preferences

In one recent study from the US, researchers have found that brand preferences can affect relationship satisfaction more than shared interests or personality traits.
The study, by researchers from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, found that partners who had low power in their relationships - those who don't feel they can shape their partner's behaviour - tend to find themselves stuck with their partner's preferred brands.
"If you are lower in relationship power and have different brand preferences than your partner, you're probably going to find yourself stuck with your partner's favourite brands, over and over again. This could lead to a death-by-a-thousand-cuts feeling," commented co-author, Danielle Brick. "Most couples won't break up over brand incompatibility, but it leads to the low power partner becoming less and less happy."
The findings didn’t relate to brands of just one particular commodity. The researchers looked at brand preferences in soda, coffee, chocolate, beer and automobiles to study individuals and couples, some of whom were tracked over two years. These results were combined with findings on relationship power and happiness.
"It's an extremely robust effect, we found it over and over and over again," said marketing professor Gavin Fitzsimons.

Financial Conflict

In a second study, also from the US, researchers investigated the impact that differing financial personalities can have on marital satisfaction.
Spouses were identified as being either a ‘tightwad’ or a ‘spender’, depending on their financial behaviour. Interestingly, the researchers found that it wasn’t so much the actual presence of these behaviours that caused friction, but more the perception of behaviour.
“The fact that spouses' perceptions of each other's spending behaviours were so predictive of financial conflict suggests that when it comes to the impact of finances on relationships, perceptions may be just as important, if not more important, than reality,” said Ashley LeBaron, BYU graduate student and study co-author.
According to the findings, thinking that their wives were spenders was the main cause of financial conflict for husbands. For wives, on the other hand, financial conflict was more likely when they thought their husbands saw them as spenders.
These findings were consistent, regardless of the income level of the couples or how much they actually spent.

The Importance of Communication

“Couples need to communicate about finances, especially early in marriage,” explained Kansas State professor Sonya Britt-Lutter. “Don’t think that financial problems will magically go away when circumstances change. The study showed that circumstances weren’t the issue here, perception was, and perception doesn’t always change when circumstances do.”
Husbands also apparently see having more children as a source of financial conflict, while women believe that conflict often resulted from a failure to communicate effectively over finances.

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