Turning your relationship around in the face of financial stress.

By Fran Sherman, LCSW

These are difficult times for marriages, given the financial stress in our lives: job loss, loss of homes, the list goes on.

Financial stressors generally are one of the first things that make marriages fall apart, yet today — because of their financial situations — some couples are really trying to work things out.

Scaling back to one income, the lack of health insurance and other financial difficulties are making couples re-evaluate their situations and look for ways to have a healthy and loving marriage. That’s usually a better choice than living together just for the sake of finances and remaining miserable.

So how do couples turn their relationships around and find the love and friendship that they once had? It takes a lot of hard work, but generally, anything in life that is worth it takes lots of work.

Consider these tips:

  • Communication is the key to any healthy relationship.  Begin to talk about what put your relationship in a negative place, and then talk about what made you like and love each other in the first place.
  • Focus on the things that you like, and agree to put the anger behind you. We only can move forward. Apologize for the hurts you have caused each other, and figure out how to do things differently.
  • Talk every day, remembering that a relationship is a living, growing and changing partnership.  We can adapt to the changes only by communicating.
  • Take time to laugh and smile. If we display positive emotions, then we feel better and it reflects on our relationship. If you come home every day in a negative mood, it also impacts the relationship, but in a negative way.
  • If you’re upset or angry, talk to your partner about how you feel. Listen to each other and validate feelings. Feelings are never right or wrong — they’re just feelings, and we all have them.  Focus on helping your partner feel better. Don’t stuff your emotions and feelings. It only causes people to shut down and disconnect.
  • Even though things are financially tough, have date nights. They can be as simple as taking a walk at a beautiful place or going out for a cup of coffee. The key is to get out of the house. If you’re away from your home there are no distractions . . . there’s only the two of you.
  • Make sure to say two or three nice things to each other every day. It reminds your partner that you think he or she is special, appreciated and loved.

Honesty and trust are imperative when it comes to restoring a relationship. If we doubt and mistrust, we are doomed to failure.

Talk about finances and work to get on the same page about your financial situation.  Agree to disagree, but come up with mutually agreeable solutions.

Not every marriage is salvageable, but many are.  Remember that it takes lots of work and effort, but it’s better to be in a relationship and feel like you have a partner, than be in a relationship and feel like you’re alone.

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