Debt Change and Marital Satisfaction Change in Recently Married Couples*


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    Part of this study was presented at the annual conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests in March 2006. The author would like to thank Dr. David Eggebeen and Dr. Jennifer Hook as well as four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on previous drafts.

**Jeffrey Dew is a Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903 (


Abstract: Although recently married couples report debt as one of their top concerns, research has not measured how debt changes relate to changes in their marital satisfaction. Further, the mechanisms that link debt and marital satisfaction are unknown. Findings using the National Survey of Families and Households (N= 1,078 couples) demonstrated that consumer debt changes predicted recently married couples’ marital satisfaction changes. Changes in variables associated with couples achieving their marital expectations (e.g., spending time together, arguing about finances) partially explained these findings. Changes in consumer debt negatively predicted couples’ time together and positively predicted arguments over money, which in turn were both associated with declines in marital satisfaction.