Financial wellness and relationship satisfaction
Wilmarth, Melissa Jayne
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This research investigated financial wellness in married individuals as well as the relationship of financial wellness, communication patterns, and relationship satisfaction. Using Healthy Families, Healthy Finances data from 2007 and 2011, the analyses bounded the economic recession that occurred from December 2007 and June 2009. Bivariate tests indicated that the 2011 sample had lower financial wellness than the 2007 sample on eight individual indicators and an overall financial wellness score. A series of ordinary least squares regression models were estimated to examine the correlates of financial wellness in separate samples and as a pooled sample to test for differences between the time periods. The results of the separate regression models suggest that income is the consistent correlate of financial wellness. A two-period, pooled regression model indicated that there were few differences in the correlates of financial wellness in 2007 versus 2011, with only three variables demonstrating differences (two levels of education and one level of income). Guided by social exchange theory, a series of structural equation models were specified to examine the mediating relationship of communication patterns on the relationship between financial wellness and relationship satisfaction. Using separate models for positive and negative communication patterns, a mediating role for positive communication was not identified. However, negative communication patterns did indicate mediation (full mediation for 2007 sample and partial mediation for 2011 sample). Together, the results of this research provide insights into the financial wellness of married individuals before and after the Great Recession and inform the growing literature on the roles finances and communication play in relationships.