Finances are one of the number one reasons couples fight. Add that to the additional stress of the economy, and you have a situation that could easily explode in your face and make for an uncomfortable family situation if you're not careful.
Just about everyone is affected by this stressful economic time, but there are varying levels and extremes that you may be facing. One such instance can be when one person in the relationship loses their job. If you're in a relationship where you're both used to working, this can drastically shift the balance of power that you were used to. If you have kids, this can be an especially frightening time, but it can also be a good opportunity to be honest as a family and educate your kids about finances, budgeting and wise spending.
Men and women, in general, have different approaches to acquiring power and money, and this can become even more apparent when one of you is out of work. Whether you're facing a loss of a job or just a tighter situation, as a family figure out what you need to do, and what works for your relationship. Maybe you need to map out a plan for living on one income. Maybe you need to schedule times where you can talk about a job hunt and money concerns so the other person doesn't feel constantly bombarded. In all situations, it's important to avoid sliding into any type of revenge behavior or financial infidelity.
Obviously, if you have kids, this crisis could very well affect them too, especially if a job loss is involved. If they're old enough to understand, they need to be prepared for the fact that things will likely be different from now on. I suggest using a technique I developed for couples, which I talk about in my book, Financial Infidelity, but that will work with kids and families as well: Smart Heart Dialogue. I designed it to help couples share financial opinions and history with their significant other, especially when going through a relational shift.
The idea behind Smart Heart Dialogue is to use relationship "triggers" that could become arguments about money to talk about the feeling and emotions brought up by finances. Using Smart Heart Dialogue enables you to have constructive conversations about fears, concerns, habits and opinions, as they relate to money. It's a good opportunity to talk about money and financial concerns with your kids, depending on their ages, and to be honest and educational with them about budgets and the current economy.
Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil has been an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist for thirty years. New York magazine named her one of the city's top therapists. Her most recent book, Financial Infidelity (now available in paper back) is available on Amazon, as is Make up, Don't Breakup, where she gives couples important tools for making their relationship work through various circumstances. You can also find her and her books on Facebook.
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