I have many couples come to me who are struggling within their relationship primary due to financial stress. It is by far one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. Unfortunately, it can tear apart even the best relationships.
Absolutely No Finger Pointing or Blaming
The core issue is that partners often take the fears they are experiencing from their financial crisis out on their partner and blame each other or themselves. This is the most poisonous reaction one can have, and can implode even the most tightly-knit bonds.
How to not go there?
Understand that pointing the finger and blaming is an avoidance technique preventing us from being creative and accountable. It is easier to malign someone or ourselves than take a serious look at what the reality of the situation actually is.
Develop a "Team-Centered" Relationship
Instead of allowing money problems to cause a divide, treat your relationship as you would a sports team. When a team member is falling apart and not performing well we cheer them on, encourage them, and build them up. We would never criticize or blame our team member because we know that would only cause him or her to experience more anxiety and have less of an ability to score and help create a win for the team. The same dynamic applies for couples in a financial struggle. Think, speak, and act as if you areon the same sports team and you will have the right behaviors, working together, encouraging, and supporting—to keep the team together and win the game against financial stress.
Talk it Out Instead of Becoming Another Statistic
Money is one of the most difficult subjects for people and couples to talk about. This is due to the social constructs placed on money as being a sign of success and self-worth. Therefore, when there are money problems, people feel ashamed, embarrassed, as if they are no longer worthy, and like a failure. So when it comes to communicating with your partner, make sure you share your thoughts and feelings in a positive and respectful way. Remind yourself there is nothing original about what you are feeling or what you are about to say and you do not need to be another statistic of failed partnerships from financial stress. Rather, rise to a higher level of relating and create common ground between you and your partner.
Take Positively Productive Action
Budget. Budget. Budget. Couples often take too much time to adjust their spending to their NEW financial reality. Stop, look at your life right now, and get a sensible grasp on your current situation and finances. Let go of how you could spend last year and spend only what you can today. Many couples are facing an incredible downward financial spiral losing their home and cars and are left just scraping by to feed their families. The faster you get a grip on your current budget the quicker you will be able to avoid unnecessary additional debt and create solutions to get through this time together.
"What you resist persists." This is a big part of financial stress, refusing to accept what is and instead continually wishing and hoping things were different. Forward motion only happens when we face the music and accept what is. Once this is done, a new world of possibility emerges. When you accept that something is what it is, and that this changed reality is actually okay, (even if you don't like it), you are empowered to relate more constructively to the new situation.
Focus on Gratitude
Keep the spotlight on all that is good and right in your life and relationship. First and foremost you are ok, still breathing, and have an abundance of things to feel grateful for. Start with the little things like toilet paper and indoor plumbing and then work your way up the ladder to the big things like love. The more focused you keep your thinking on the good stuff-the more good stuff will occur!
In conclusion, join forces with your partner, be open and honest, pull out your best coping skills, stay centered, be innovative, kick your fears to the curb, encourage one another, and be a great friend and champion to each other.
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