Back in 2009, when we were in the depths of a deep recession, I wrote an article about resilience strategies for couples in bleak financial times.
Fortunately, the economy has improved. But when I re-read my old article, I found it still relevant, not only for couples who are struggling financially, but also for any couples who are facing tough times in some way and are seeking to be resilient.
So if you and your partner aren’t having an easy go of it, I hope you will find this useful:
As the recession deepens, many couples are struggling. In my office, I see partners fight about how to spend or save; criticize and blame their partners for financial woes; and retreat from each other in silence or anger. What is going on?
With less money, more seems at stake. Different attitudes toward money matter less in flush times; if your partner overspends, the consequences are manageable. But when financial security evaporates, differences become more threatening. In tough times, when you want to control things as best you can, it’s scary if your partner won’t behave according to your standards.
As people worry more about the future, and face economic and job uncertainty, anxiety and depression are up. Resilience and self-esteem are down. When your mood is bad and you don’t feel good about yourself, you are more likely to withdraw and have a short fuse with your partner.
As stress increases, sex decreases. Less sex can exacerbate tension already present in the relationship due to the recession. Many clients tell me that they are having less sex because they are distracted or worried or mad at their partner. As a result, distance and unhappiness snowball. And because sex is already a vulnerable area for many couples, more trouble in this area is especially dangerous.
Now here’s the good news:
Difficult circumstances give you an opportunity to grow.
If you are blaming your partner, shaming your partner, criticizing your partner, withdrawing from your partner, or expecting your partner to fix things, ask yourself this question:
What would it mean for me to do my best in this relationship at this difficult time?
Simply put, when you do your best, your relationship will improve. And when you both do your best, your relationship will improve even more.
- Finding ways to decrease your anxiety and reduce your depression will help.
- Staying connected rather than pulling away from your partner will help.
- And tolerating your partner’s different ways of doing things will help you both find ways to improve the situation, even if it’s not exactly the way you would do it yourself.
Doing your best in your relationship will not only help your relationship thrive: It can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, improve your mood, and increase your self-esteem.
All of these are useful goals to reach toward in this tough time.
If you are struggling in your relationship right now, and you can’t find a way to build resilience, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be glad to help you figure out what you must do in order to get through this difficult period with an intact and strong relationship.