Saving Your Marriage In Times Of Financial Hardship

Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Anxiety, Couples & Family, Depression, Divorce, Finances, Marriage | 0 comments

Saving Your Marriage In Times Of Financial Hardship

By Jeremy Skow, LMHC, CASAC, MBA

          Money has been documented as being the number one cause of friction in relationships. When times are tough tension mounts, fingers point and fear increases. The breadwinner in a single-income family may feel resentful that their spouse hasn’t been trying to find work. One partner may feel that the other isn’t trying hard enough to replace a lost job or that they are spending too much. These feelings only escalate as time goes on, money tightens and savings dwindle. Ultimately this tension may lead to discussions of separation and divorce. Even if the financial hardship eases later, the inertia of the process and ill feelings towards one another often becomes too great to save the marriage. An understanding of some of the ways money may negatively affect your marriage can help.

 AAEAAQAAAAAAAAW3AAAAJDI1NDM4MGMwLTBiNTMtNGFlNC05N2U3LTJkMTE3ZjYyOGYxZQ         An Ohio State study revealed several correlations between income and satisfaction with a marriage. Researchers found that a woman’s employment status has no effect on the likelihood that her husband will opt to leave a marriage. However, if a man is unemployed it will not only increase the chances that the wife will initiate a divorce, but also that he will be the one who opts to leave even if he is relatively happy otherwise. This suggests that the image that many men and women have about spousal roles in a marriage includes a man who at least contributes towards total household income.

          While the national average for divorce in the United States hovers around 50%, an article published by the Psych Central website indicated that when married women earn an independent income and have access to money of their own, the divorce rate drops as low as 20 percent. This may suggest that spouses with access to money of their own argue less about money and how it is spent. A University of Utah study found that spouses who fight or disagree about money every day are much more likely to divorce than those who fight or disagree a couple of times a month or less. A 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center indicated that 53 percent of spouses reported that “adequate” income is an important factor in a satisfactory marriage.

Anxious woman resting head in hand

          The impact of financial hardship can be felt in several ways. There may have been pre-existing problems in the marriage. In such cases, financial difficulties can be a marital dissatisfaction amplifier.  The loss of a job is just another reason to end the relationship. The pesky habit that she has that was a minor annoyance is now blaring in your mind like a voice through a megaphone. The lack of effort he shows to help with housework is like a thousand fingernails scraping against a chalk board. Instead of creating a way to stay together, thoughts turn towards dissatisfaction and an exit strategy.

          If finances are strained, both spouses may be fearful and anxious about their future. The uncertainty of sustaining their lifestyle is like a flame accelerant, feeding negative emotions to new heights. Tension mounts as the duration of unemployment increases. Accusations regarding the job search effort increases.

          It is not always possible to predict when monetary problems will occur. The loss of a job is not often predictable. Stress may not be avoidable and anxiety may spike and subside.  The key is to cope with these problems together and to support your partner when times get tough.

          Decide to fight for your marriage. People often claim to want a great relationship but not everyone gives their all to maintain one. Saying to yourself and your partner that you firmly ARE going to get through this and will not allow it to deteriorate your relationship is a crucial step. It focuses you away from negative conversations about the relationship and creates renewed energy to deal with your mutual financial problems. You never know how tough you are until tough is the only option you have. Be tough for your partner and you help each other through it.

          Attack the problems, not each other. The more effort we expend on blaming and fighting, the less we are putting towards getting our problems solved. Not talking is the worst mistake you can make. Review your whole financial situation and start talking together to figure out creative solutions. Be determined to focus on loving each other and knowing that as long as the two of you are in this together, that’s what counts.

          Give yourself permission to have fun. We have a tendency to stop all fun during tough financial times because we feel that we’re supposed to be sad and overworked. It’s irrational to think that if you feel sad it will improve your situation. If it does not help you then you might as well work on keeping your spirits up.

          Get the children on board. Children are more resilient than we often give them credit for. Parents tend to share as little as possible with their kids because they fear worrying them. When confronted with questionable circumstances a child will always look first to their parents to help them determine if they should be afraid of it or not. They can handle the truth as long as they know that their parents are on top of this and that there will be love in this family regardless of what comes next. You have the chance to send a powerful message to your children that they will draw on for the rest of their lives: ‘as long as we are focused on the love in our family, we get through anything.’’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.