By Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
All couples face financial stress at one time or another. Financial stress is not only caused by a lack of money or work, it also results from different spending styles, money management, and ways of coping with stress and life challenges. It can lead to major relationship problems and even separation. Money matters are one of the most common causes for divorce. When a financial crisis occurs, couples are forced to cope with changes that can be uncomfortable or cause one or both partners to feel resentment towards the other. The strain can lead to increased irritability, pressure, insecurity, and fear.
The challenges couples face quickly become more than a financial problem, and that is why many breakups and divorces occur. It hurts the relationship in all areas. If not handled in a healthy manner, financial stress can lead to:
Increased conflict & irritability
Fears, worries, insecurities
Blame and Underlying resentment
Decreased affection/Sex life
Problems with changing roles & lifestyle
Following are some tips to help couples better cope with financial challenges that put strain on their relationship.
1. The first thing couples must do is come in agreement that they will make it through this challenge together. They are to see each other as partners. They are in this together. They are a team and together they will overcome.
2. If there are underlying issues of blame and anger, they need to be dealt with as soon as possible until there is a resolve to work together without resentment and/or unforgiveness.
3. Couples must accept the challenge as another way that their relationship will be put to the test. Reaffirming their commitment to each other despite what they are going through will help them to keep their focus and priorities straight.
4. Rather than shut down or withdraw, couples ought to communicate their feelings to each other. Communicating feelings of anxiety or pressure allows them to offer the support, comfort, and hope that is needed and can help significantly in coping with the situation.
5. Couples can help each other maintain an attitude that is hopeful and positive. Couples that pray together, stay together. Rather than focusing on the problem, couples can focus on the solution. Instead of talking about how bad things are or how bad they can get, couples can make the best of the situation and focus on the good things they do have. They can set new goals to make things better. They can brainstorm new ways of spending time together without spending much money. They can find new ways to connect and enjoy each other.
The strain on relationships caused by financial stress does not need to damage or destroy them. Instead, it can and will make them stronger if couples are willing to work with each other as they go through the process together of adjusting to the changes, and accepting new roles and different lifestyles. And, keep believing that things can and will get better. Tough times don’t last forever. Things will get better if they do not give up on each other and the situation. Couples who work together during trying times ultimately find that their relationships become stronger and more fulfilling.