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Does Trying to Keep Up With the Real Housewives Ruin Marriages?

/ (Irvine, CA)—Forget keeping up with the Joneses—these days it's all about emulating your favorite reality star. And for many couples, that means Bravo TV's Real Housewives.

"The couples on that show live fabulous lives," says Judy Joseph Hamlin, author of the book "From Riches to Happiness." "It's no wonder people want to be like them. But the catch is: are they really that glamorous, or is it just a show for the TV cameras?"

With series set in Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, and Beverly Hills, the Real Housewives showcase the lives of rich couples from coast to coast, highlighting their huge homes, multiple cars, designer clothes, luxury vacations, and top-of-the-line possessions across the board.

"The problem is, the average couple—even some who really live in Orange County—can't afford all that," says Ms. Hamlin. "But they want to emulate that lifestyle because it looks so good. In the end, by trying to keep up with the reality-TV Joneses, all they're doing is pushing themselves further and further into debt."

According to, debt is the number-one issue that starts fights between husbands and wives. Marital stress is also caused by other financial issues, including:

* Overspending—the second most common reason why couples fight.
* Poor investing habits—eager to have what their neighbors have, too many couples go out and buy, buy, buy instead of putting their money to work for them in stocks, retirement plans, or other vehicles.
* Keeping secrets about money—'s survey found 36% of men and 40% of women lie to each other about prices of what they buy. Can a marriage survive that sort of dishonesty?
* Lack of emergency planning—if you're focused on having the latest of everything, you're not putting money away for a rainy day, to protect yourself and your family.

"It's hard not to be influenced by the people we see on TV," says Ms. Hamlin. "But in the case of the Housewives, take it with a grain of salt. Believe me, I've been there and done that, and the Joneses are not all they appear to be!"

About the author:
Judy Joseph Hamlin, a former Orange County housewife, earned a master's degree in special education. She is a teacher in Newport Beach, California. This is her first book.

For more information, please contact Judy Joseph Hamlin at or visit