Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Help: My Marriage Is Sliding From Recession To Depression

Is the economic padding in your marriage no longer a cushion you can count on? Is the current economic climate a barometer for the temperature of your marriage? Is your dwindling bank account affecting the balance in your emotional depository? If your marriage is starting to feel like like an investment with low or no returns, take stock of how the recession can further impact your relationship and affect your bottom line.

As the economy declines, and stories of doom and gloom loom on the horizon, the emotional and practical stress on couples is unavoidable. Employment insecurity, job loss, pressure to perform, diminished resources, sinking stocks and slipping savings result in a marital albatross that many are struggling to carry. Moreover when a couple's preexisting issues are combined with the hefty weight of financial strain, it becomes even more challenging for spouses to figure out where to begin in order to move forward.

For spouses that have a history of communication issues, the hot topic of money is even scarier when there is less of it. In a marriage where financial freedom was a factor in keeping the disconnected together, limited resources might inhibit their ability to indulge in things like independent vacations, separate dinners out with friends and maybe even time alone at a cottage or on boat. Less disposable income, the sale of assets and longer hours at work can limit the availability of distractions that may have helped to stabilize the already shaky marriage. As for the spouse in the house who is out of a job, this too, often serves to add further strain on the relationship tight rope from which the couple was already hanging.

To add insult to injury, couples are bombarded with experts telling them that they can "Recession-Proof" their marriage. Such suggestions are akin to telling home-owners that they can "Burglar-Proof" their house and keep the most determined intruder out. The recession like the thief, doesn't knock, ring the bell, or "scare off" easily. Moreover, locks, alarms, buzzers, and even guard dogs cannot keep the prowler from coming through the door. In spite of your best efforts to protect yourself, be prepared to manage the chaos and consequences of an economic storm that beats your door down like a thief in the night.

Spouses are being advised by relationship experts that they can "Recession-Proof" their marriage in some of the following ways simple ways:

  • Cook together: For husbands and wives who can barely make it through a meal, the ideal of preparing it might not be a recipe for success.
  • Go on a date night: Does one really need to pay a therapist when money is tight, to be told that making an effort to go out together is important? Save the fees and buy the book. Date night recommendations will be in the first chapter!
  • Have sex. It is cheap and in the budget: If sex and money are intricately connected, it is no coincidence that the bed and the head may now be disconnected. In addition, for anyone feeling impotent in their lives, the pressure to perform may be filled with unbearable anxiety. In particular, for anyone who has lost a job, low self-esteem can be found between the sheets. Be sensitive and patient.
  • Go for walks together, save on gas and enjoy the outdoors: If conflict is at an all time high and the walks turn out to be more of the same - do the opposite. Walk your dog, stroll with a friend or go it alone. You will come back refreshed and better equipped to face your day.
  • See a couple's therapist: While it is not uncommon to recommend seeing a therapist together to make headway, perhaps a visit with a different kind of "professional helper" is better suited to the Recession Rescue Menu. For example, a Mediator may be in order to facilitate conflict resolution and help you reach mutual agreements regarding your finances.
While the aforementioned recommendations may work for some, others may find they only serve to exacerbate the stress they already experience. This is not to say that getting back to the basics and enjoying the little things in life together is not a wonderful thing. In fact couples who can connect in that way are at the top of their game. Unfortunately, for those that are truly stressed and in a mess, the "little things" might just not cut it. If the recession is pulling you and your spouse further apart consider the following additional tips to help you manage the damage and avert depression.
  1. Leave the money on the floor outside the bedroom door. Don't talk about financial issues in the bedroom. While it will not ensure sex, it will guarantee a greater likelihood of a better sleep.
  2. Share space not conversation. Spend time in the same room. Read, listen to music, get on your computer, play a game or watch TV. Take a break from talking about money and the issues at hand.
  3. Pick a regular time to discuss financial issues: This will eliminate the worry that the topic is ongoing and never-ending. Schedule "conversation time" on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss the finances and stick to it.
  4. Call a friend. The secret to every stressful marriage is a good friend.
  5. Filter: Use your best judgement and filter the topic before you raise it. Is your issue something that needs to be shared or is it a release of your financial anxiety only to be dumped and now the burden of your partner? If the answer is YES - get a journal and spare your spouse. What goes around comes around and the financial worry-go-round can be never-ending.
  6. Get Educated: Be informed and understand the real financial deal in your life. Don't live on the financial myths of your marriage.
  7. Ask An Advisor: Attend meetings with accountants, financial advisors, brokers and/or bankers together to avoid miscommunication.
  8. Skip the news at night. Go to bed with an empty head. Everything is more upsetting and anxiety provoking at night. The headlines will be there for you in the morning. If your spouse insists on watching, listening or stressing - disengage and leave the room.
  9. Exercise more. The release of endorphins will help you cope. This in turn will make you a calmer spouse. Life will begin to look brighter. You may find the cup half full. The laws of attraction will take effect and the cycle will evolve and you will feel the future beginning to look brighter.
  10. Look in the mirror more and pay attention to what you see. Wash your forlorn face. Walking around looking dejected, miserable and with a sour or dour face will ensure that you get back what you put out. Be aware of your energy, your presence and your demeanor and begin to smile. If it does not feel authentic, fake it. Your academy award winning performance may rub off on your marriage and you may find that before you know it, you actually feel happier.
Developing an economic partnership, communication, compromise, respect, reinventing and redistributing roles, sharing and caring are only some of the issues that need to be addressed by couples dealing with the consequences of the recession. As you ride out the economic storm remember that you cannot keep the recession out of your marriage or prevent it from impacting your relationship. So confront the issues head on and don't be afraid to open the door because it's coming inside even if you try to ignore. The really good news is that marriage is like the economy - it has cycles that come and go. Ride this one out and stay in the know.

For more information visit

No comments:

Post a Comment