Economic Stress On Your Marriage

I know everything in the media seems to be revolving around the economy: the market, home loans, business concerns, and credit crunches. I think that that stress may be also trickling into some unforeseen places, like your marriage or relationship.

Sex and money are two common sources of stress, and both are highly underemphasized in most relationships. It’s not comfortable talking about these things, so what do we do? Sweep it under the rug, and go on using money with the negative, dysfunctional messages that have always characterized our relationship with money. 

Maybe one of you spends to alleviate stress, or the other has a habit of overspending to compensate for guilt or shame in your relationship. Maybe you both live in separate fantasies about how money works in your life – and those fantasies don’t match the other one. The current economic realities have started to slap you in the face, and now you’re wondering why you needed that last minute trip to the Bahamas.

Money, and our relationship with it, is a very powerful agent (and container) for our dysfunctional messages and neurotic compulsions. Mix in our issues with our relationships, and we’re looking at a perfect storm of problems. 

So, what helps this mess out? Stopping the hiding from your spouse about those gambling weekends you and your buddies had last month? All these are good starts, but there is more.

I think that understanding how to minimize conflict is another key. conflict will come from not being on the same page together if there are money issues. Honesty is essential. I think that money brings a lot of discomfort and fear, especially of the other spouse getting mad, and rejecting their mate or their spending habits. Spending habits are directly linked to one’s personal psychology, and rejecting the spending habits may risk rejecting the spouse, especially if their is excessive spending or addictive behaviors going on. Then, more intervention may be needed.

The economy has its ups and downs, just like a relationship. Taking preventative measures, and knowing how you will navigate (both in your finances and in your relationship) will calm the waters quite a bit. Knowing how to work with your spouse as a team, and not malign, blame, criticize or anything else to make the situation worse will help. Seeking professional help, such as with a good financial coach and a relationship counselor, will help minimize these issues.

– Jason

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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