The 2009 edition of The State of Our Unions has just been released by the National Marriage Project under new editors Brad Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquardt. The focus of the report this year is financial issues that affect marriage, especially during this recession.
The lead report is Jeffrey Dew's "Bank on It: Thrifty Couples Are The Happiest." I want to lift up three particularly interesting points from his study.
Paul Amato and Stacey Rogers showed a decade ago that the top three predictors of divorce, in declining order, are extramarital affairs, drug or alcohol abuse, and "feeling that one's spouse spent money foolishly."
The trend of a couple's relation to debt was a significant factor in their happiness. If they started in debt but reduced it, they became happier; if they started with no debt but added to it, they became unhappier.
Third, Dew's own study found that the amount of conflict over money matters predicts divorce better than any other factor.