Consumerist Triggers of Divorce

Posted on April 14, 2020

Marriage is a unique social phenomenon and one of the ethical aspects of social life established by the people on the basis of social norms and mores. Marriage reflects the attitude of people towards each other, determines their beliefs, and improves behavioral patterns. As follows, marriage is an interpersonal bond based on mutual agreement. It is rooted in all societies of diverse cultures. The union of two people serves as the necessary motivation and inspiration to develop their family. Despite the fact that the role of marriage in social life is highly appreaciated, many people divorce and disrupt their family linkage. The wide majority of people are increasingly concerned with the question of what leads to the disruption of marriage. Although the rate of divorces is in decline, it still breaks somebody’s lives. Therefore, materialism and consumptive behavior, especially overconsumption, often are the significant reasons for divorce and the source of further common causes of the marriage disruption, particularly lack of individual identity, infidelity, inability to resolve conflicts, wrong expectations, the disappearance of intimacy, domestic abuse, consumer behavior of partners.

Rising consumerism and the popularization of consumer behavior are spread causes that make people seek divorce. Materialism, consumptive behavior, overconsumption, and therefore, financial dependence or autonomy increase the world rate of divorce cases. The financial conditions of the couple are directly related to their consumptive patterns. In a variety of situations, marriage is the option to attain a spouse with home, money, and a luxurious lifestyle. In the age of consumerism, marriage is not only seen as an entitlement to love and support but as an opportunity for financial stability. As follows, overconsumption leads to financial dissatisfaction, which often results in divorce cases (Copur and Isil 683). Modern families are fueled by the rising trend of high consumption. Therefore, there are legal cases where women accumulated enormous debts because they overused husbands’ credit cards, and their husbands were unable to repay the debts and resorted to dissolve the marriage (Irby). On the contrary, lawyers report about the cases that were filed by wives because their husbands could not afford their shopping needs. Finally, consumerism is usually supported by the failure of a partner to fulfill the commitments of family roles and increased financial disappointment.

As one mentioned above, materialism and consumptive behavior prevail among the root causes of legal disruption of marriage. From the point of materialism, divorce is often viewed as an act of selling the previous lifestyle as financially disappointing or the “buyer’s remorse” (Feiereisen). In addition, materialistic attitudes can establish considerable frameworks of excuses for a divorcement, including extra-marital affairs, adultery, and abusive behavioral patterns, because materialists look for better opportunities to satisfy their consumptive needs. As follows, consumerism is the primary source of financial abuse. Extreme spending on extravagant cars, clothes, and houses, as well as huge credit card bills, are the signs of financial abuse that are usually mentioned in divorcement proceedings. Besides, self-rewarding as a way of consumptive behavior works as the coping strategy for financial abuse and may have a negative impact on marriage disruption. Aside from that, the diverse spending habits and financial goals of one partner cause pressure and may strain the family to the final breaking point. Both lack and abundance of financial resources can cause divorce. The family cannot exist successfully if one person is the saver, while the other is the spender. The situation is irritating when one person works hard to make the best living, and the partner wastes great sums of money without considering the family budget. Generally speaking, consumerism is a significant reason for divorce. If uncontrolled, consumer tendencies can develop insatiable desires that lead to the breaking point of marriage.

The phenomenon of consumerism and high consumptive needs of the partners spawns a range of reasons for divorce that have a financial and consumerist background. The first reason that comes due to consumerism is opposing attitudes toward finances in the family. It is essential to discuss financial circumstances with the partner before getting married. Couples need to take time in order to understand each other’s consumptive preferences and views on saving and spending. According to Andrea Woroch, a personal finance writer, eventually, it will lead to frivolous clashes between two partners who have extremely different views on money and finances (Feiereisen). Undoubtedly, there is a place for severe tensions if one partner spends without limits, and the other madly saves every dollar. Different views on purchases and consumption are the vital causes of divorce.

Besides, materialism is closely related to financial priorities. Mismatched and opposite financial priorities play a considerable role in divorce. Andrea Woroch says that “if you don’t identify major shared goals — like buying a home or traveling to an exotic new place — it can create problems down the line, since you won’t be working simultaneously to save toward the same goals” (Feiereisen). Common financial priorities give the opportunity to shape mutual consumptive habits and needs. Opposite financial priorities are the point of contention between partners because their consumptive needs are not on the same page. Salary differences are the major source of different economic and consumptive priorities. Besides, there is a new theory that relates the divorce rates to salary differences. The Harvard research shows that husbands feel anxious, while wives are embarrassed because men earn less than women do (Irby). The social stereotypes say that men should earn more money than women, and it works as a trigger when the reality does not correspond to the stereotype. As follows, those feelings lead to dissatisfaction in the marriage and the loss of family roles. The marriage evolves around interdependent relationships, and the codependent bond cannot stabilize the relationships. If one is not comfortable making decisions without his or her partner or cannot define what kind of food and entertainment one used to prefer, one is likely to drown in a partner’s personality and cannot express his or hew own consumptive preferences. As follows, the lack of identity leads to a misunderstanding of family roles. Hesitation and neglect of personal identity forces partners to forget that they are, first of all, the couple. Separate friends, the absence of mutual interests, salary differences, and the complete devotion to children lead to failure in fulfilling family roles.

Aside from that, financial infidelity is the real reflection of consumerism. Like sexual infidelity and extra-marital affairs, financial infidelity leads to dramatic repercussions on honesty, loyalty, and trust that are the pillars of any marriage. The signs of financial infidelity are hidden purchases, secret bank accounts, gambling abuse, and undisclosed debts (Feiereisen). Deep-rooted emotions and conflicts support financial infidelity. According to Andrea Woroch, “financial infidelity may occur after years of built-up financial tension in a marriage or as a result of poor communication and different dreams” (Feiereisen). As follows, money ruins the couple, and they undergo divorce and separation.

Overconsumption forces partners to overextend their budgets. When a couple gets married and combines profits, they can feel financially wealthy, but then make a series of stupid purchases that put the family into debt. Therefore, “the larger a couple’s debt, the more likely they were to say money is one of the top issues they fight about” (“Money Ruining Marriages in America”). Thus, couples should plan their purchases and buy according to their purchasing power but not consumptive behavior. Aside from that, overconsumption causes an inability to compromise on spending. The inability to resolve conflicts related to spending and money and constant arguing is the ultimate cause of divorcement. As follows, from bickering about financial commitments to arguing about family duties, incessant conflicts kill a lot of families. Marriage is the union of two equal adults who are intelligent enough to solve conflicts. The failure to resolve disagreement costs the divorce. Such a compromise can save the family from the divorcement connected to overconsumption and wrong distribution of spendings on its background.

The materialistic behavior of one partner is the direct reason for divorce. For example, major impulse buys, unexpected big expenses, and, thus, unmet expectations are spawned by the materialism. Significant and huge purchases must be made by both partners, whether the family in a dire situation or financial stability (Feiereisen). The spouse will be irritated when another partner returns home with a new luxurious car another spouse does not want and leaves wife or husband with hard financial decisions on how to earn money for further life. Consumptive behavior of one spouse may cause serious damage to another one and leads to divorcement proceedings eventually. Another reason for divorce is stress connected with unmet expectations and disagreements over huge unexpected expenditures. Wrong expectations arise in the case of misunderstanding of the partner’s consumer desires. The unplanned expenses as a source of tensions include medical emergencies, unexpected trips, major house or car repairs, and caring for an elderly relative (Feiereisen). One should always remember that marriage is not a kind of slavery, and one cannot force a partner to fulfill one’s desires for the cost of his or her own salary. As one can see, unmet expectations are a controversial issue, but eventually, they lead to divorce.

In addition, spending too much on a wedding is also an example of high consumptive needs in the case if one partner cannot afford it. Tough financial situations after a luxurious wedding can be a serious reason for divorce. One may deserve the greatest wedding, undoubtedly, but one also is worth having a stable financial situation after the marriage. According to Calvin Harris Jr., a chief financial officer at Baltimore City Community College, “if you both choose to spend so much on the wedding that you can’t afford the home you want afterward — and you are both willing to live with that decision — then fine” (Feiereisen). In other cases, the couple can face conflict that will lead to the divorcement proceedings. Thus, couples should consider the financial affordability of each other before the wedding.

Finally, overconsumption is the direct way to the loss of financial control. Managing principal at Spectrum Management Group, Leslie Thompson, says that there are two ways that surface the issues of financial control. First and the most common way is when a woman is forced to feel marginalized because of her false lack of impact and contribution to the development of family wealth. The second way is the conflict over the prevalence of “mine” and “ours” that spawns the contest between the partners and their contributions to the family. The woman is not obliged to put all work efforts on caring for children and family and promoting her husband’s career. The husband should respect the choice of a woman to earn money. Financial autonomy and respect are the necessary safeguards that divorce will not be the consequence of financial control loss.

In conclusion, there is a great variety of factors that trigger divorce. Infidelity, consumptive behavior, abuse, inability to solve conflicts, substance use, lack of individual identity, and being out of touch are the most common reasons that contribute to the start of divorcement proceedings. Nonetheless, the influence of materialism and overconsumption must be emphasized because it takes the most considerable role in a modern decade. The marriage cannot function successfully if the family experiences financial abuses and consists of the saver and the spender. Overconsumption leads to other reasons for divorce, notably extra-marital affairs, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence. Partners cannot build a successful family that is based on different financial and consumptive priorities and opposing attitudes regarding money. The striking difference in salaries of partners can also be the prerequisite for divorce. Aside from that, marriage cannot be viewed as a bargain or a successful purchase. Finance and conflict go hand in hand, leading to the disruption of marriage. Generally speaking, marriage is a valuable unity to work on and develop it by making additional linkages between partners who act as two equals. The couple should put reciprocal efforts to save the union that must not be influenced by new trends and, especially, consumer inclinations.

Works Cited
Copur, Zeynep, and Isil Eker. “The Relationship Between Financial Issues and Marital Relationship.” International Journal of Arts & Sciences, vol. 7, 2014, pp. 683–698.,

Feiereisen, Sharon. “The 12 Biggest Money-Related Reasons People Get Divorced.” Business Insider, 7 July 2019,

Irby, Kate. “Wife the Breadwinner? You’re More Likely to Get Divorced Unless Husbands Do This.” Miami Herald, 4 May 2017,

“Money Ruining Marriages in America: A Ramsey Solutions Study.”, 2018,

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