Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Economic Pressures Often Breed Marital Challenges

It can be scary when money is tight, can't it? We get more tense, worry and fear the unknown. Unfortunately, financial pressures often carry over into our relationships, most notably our marriage. We can easily add an extra edge into our words, we may start using the silent treatment more or we can see little irritations which would normally be no big deal explode into major arguments.

The good news is that financial hardships don't have to implode our marriages. Instead, this can be a time when husband and wife come together even more intimately than ever and see their bonds strengthened. Couples must face all of life as a team. That's what you committed to be on your wedding day, a team, "for better or for worst." Financially rough seasons are no exception.

So how do we make the most of these days when the economy and its implications put extra strain on our marriage?

First of all, talk about what's going on. Men are especially prone to use the silent treatment, hold everything in and hope that everything will work itself out. But remaining mute is the worst thing you can do. First of all, we need the encouragement of others, especially our mate. It's ok to be angry, discouraged, overwhelmed, confused or panicky. But keeping all that to ourselves is not the answer. Part of enjoying full intimacy in a marriage is being able to tell the other person about our deepest feelings, even when they're negative.

It can also be helpful to have another same-sex confidante to talk with on a regular basis. Sometimes they can bring another helpful perspective to your interactions with your spouse. And if necessary, get counseling.

Second, take some simple next steps together. You need to understand that you're not paralyzed or stuck. The feeling of not being able to move typically leads to depression or major discouragement at best. If you're out of work get involved in a networking group at your church or in the community. Think of the process of getting your next job as a volunteer position that you and your spouse are committed to for the next few months. Enjoy the victories and positives together.

Or if you're working but things are tough, do something that moves you forward anyway. Re-do your budget. Cut something that was an extra but will easily save you money. Enjoy doing some local activities instead of going to the theme park and have fun doing it!

Third, pray. I don't know of any couples who can fight while they're praying! But more importantly, praying brings you closer together spiritually and invites God's power to your situation. You and your family get an opportunity to see God work even through your struggles as He provides and gives you wisdom. If you have children, let them pray with you for God's direction. They may not understand it all but they'll learn lessons for life about trusting God.

And don't forget to stop and thank God for some things you DO have. No matter what our situation is we are still blessed in ways beyond measure.

So, no, the economy doesn't have to economize your marriage. If anything, hard times have the potential to make us stronger. Re-commit yourselves as husband and wife to be a team, to be partners as you face our uncertain future. God will honor you for it and your marriage will become richer. Keep climbing!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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