The more out of control a couple's wedding budget grows, the shorter their marriage will tend to last, according to a new study by two Emory University economics professors. Excessive spending on the engagement ring also correlated with higher divorce rates.
Accouterments ranging from rented photo booths to sophisticated websites, and the lengthening of weddings to weekend-long events, help explain the rising costs of weddings. The changes have been fueled by a planning industry that conflates big spending with love and commitment.
The Emory study surveyed 3,000 people who had gotten married only once. It found that men who had spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than those who had spent $500 to $2,000.
For couples, spending over $20,000 on a wedding increased the chances of divorce by 3.5 times compared to those whose budget was $5,000 to $10,000.
"'Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful,' the researchers wrote in an email."
Teasing out causation from correlation is tricky, but researchers hypothesize that when a wedding is treated as a climactic event rather than as the beginning of a durable marriage, a substantial letdown inevitably occurs.
But keeping to a modest wedding budget shouldn't deter you from celebrating the day with extended friends and family. The study did find that having large guest lists was healthy for the overall length of the marriage.
In his Big Think interview, Rabbi Shmuley explains the strategies he has used throughout a life dedicated to making marriage work for loving couples:
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