Marriage: Couples that Save Together, Stay Together

After Stephanie Walker's husband lost his job in 2008, the couple faced foreclosure on their $799,000 mid-century, modern dream home in Los Angeles. So they gave up the home, with a view of the Hollywood sign, and declared bankruptcy. But these huge obstacles didn't threaten their marriage. "It is because of our financial crisis that we are as happily married as we are today," Walker said. They pledged to "rise above the depression, negativity and anxiety" and "took really good care of each other and our marriage in the process," using the experience as a chance to spend more quality time together.

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Walker and her husband started taking long hikes with their pug dog, cooking dinner at home together, and having conversations every morning about what they each intended to accomplish that day. They fought less "because we put each other first." Now both employed, they're renting a modest apartment in Chicago near their family and recently had their first child. "Our marriage has never been stronger," says Walker, who has also written a book about the ordeal called Love in the Time of Foreclosure.

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This would come as no surprise to Jason Carroll, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University. His new study shows that marriages in which both spouses were non-materialistic were 10 to 15 percent better than those where one or both partners were acquisitive; and in marriages when one partner was materialistic, the couple was happier than when both partners wanted to shop 'til they dropped.

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"Spouses who place a high value on money are often less responsive to their partner and less focused on the relationship. They seek happiness in possessions, not people," Carroll said. On the contrary, in relationships where both couples are non-materialistic, there is an emphasis on basic values that can stand the test of a financial collapse, like raising a healthy family or giving back to the community, says Paula Levy, a marriage and family therapist in the affluent area of Westport, Connecticut. "Those are the kinds of things that can survive difficult economic situations," she says.

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By Julie Halpert, The Fiscal Times