I’ve received a ton of emails lately asking me to blog about the state of the economy, and how financial stress within marriages today are at a feverish pitch. Even one of the comments I received was, “The economy will get better, but will my marriage still be in tact when it does?” Ouch, sounds serious.

So let’s take a look at what’s going on. To get a good picture of what’s happening in America, I would like to share with you one of our reader’s comments from yesterday’s Blog. To give you a little recap, the subject matter was how to connect to a man, from a man’s perspective.  I received a lot of feedback, not all good, and you ladies had a lot to say on the matter. Here is a great comment from yesterday….

“I appreciate the insight of Man on the Fence. I am sure that he represents the feelings of many men, including my husband – who has said many times that I give all my love and attention to the kids and have nothing left over for him…well, guess what, Man on the Fence. In today’s world, many of us women are working women who contribute to the finances of the house in a very REAL and SIGNIFICANT way – and have real wear and tear from our days at work as well.

There may be women who worry about frivolous things, as you mention – but a lot of us – including myself – are out in the workforce – struggling with complex issues and businesses – and yet , the majority of the household management still falls on the woman.

While women are now working and contributing financially to the “partnership”, not a lot has changed on the home front. So, while I contribute at least 50% to the finances of my partnership, I am still responsible for the vast majority of the house management – including paying the bills, all food, clothes and laundry, shopping, meal preparation, driving the kids to school, organizing extra-curricular activities, homework, dealing with teachers, packing clothes, and all the myriad of things that I do – on top of my paying job.

You talk about keeping your wives fed and happy and your kids clothed and sheltered? Please – in most houses – there wouldn’t be food to eat or clothing on the kids if the Mom didn’t buy it – with money she EARNED! Our generation of women is doing it all – working significant careers and then gearing up for the “second shift” at home. Yes, perhaps we should be a little more compassionate to our men – but our men should appreciate the many contributions that we make and help out (without being asked).

Foreplay for me is when my man participates in the “second shift” at our home – before I lose my temper!!” An Anonymous reader.

Maybe you can relate.

fight over money

Regardless, there is no doubt financial strain takes a toll on a marriage. In the USA, “money problems” have been cited as the primary reason for divorce and relationship conflicts. Especially this time of year, with Christmas around the corner, spending requirements are up and so are anxiety levels. My husband looked at me last week, and said, “Do you know that this week, $x,000 is coming off my account just for school, and camp, and school deposit for next year and ….” It’s a fortune to live, just for the basic necessities. No perks, no extras, no vacations. Just diapers, food and maybe Tide. In her predictions for 2009, Petra Boynton, a U.K. sex educator (drpetra.co.uk) foresees “increased separation and divorce rates, substance and alcohol abuse, violence within relationships, and extramarital activity” all due to economic stress. We have a real problem going on here that needs fixing.

financial stress

So, if you’re not communicating about finances and it has you and your partner at a breaking point, STOP, READ and regroup. It’s time to admit a few things, take certain actions, before you too become just a statistic. Your relationship can weather the financial storm.

  1. Deal with the immediate crisis. This means getting your finances in order immediately. You need a spending budget. It’s a must. You need to know how much it costs you and your family to live. Knowledge is power.
  2. You need to acknowledge the stress. You guys are in this together and are on the same team, at the end of the day. Avoid blaming. The blame game is not the solution. If your emotions are running too high, seek outside advice if necessary… financial and personal counseling.
  3. It’s time to face reality. Your life may be in transition, and it may last a while. If one of you have been laid off, or demoted, this is the time to honker down, cut wherever you can, while you ride out the storm.
  4. See past the fear and realize that the changes you are making now can lead to a financially better life tomorrow. Short term pain for long term gain. It’s true though.
  5. Nothing lasts forever, neither good nor bad.  This has always been my mother’s advice and it’s true. This too shall pass, but in the meantime remember this is a time for taking care of each other. When you made those vows at the alter, something about “richer or poorer – in good times and in bad,” this very well may be one of those “bad times.”

So if you feel yourself slipping further and further away from your partner, growing more angry and distant, stop and take a breath. Make a plan. And also remember, you’re not alone. Your best friend or neighbor could very well be in the same boat as you. Support is another amazing gift that comes to us in our darkest days.

Is financial strain taking a toll on your relationship?