Turning Relationships Up in a Down Economy
Current economic news is influencing more than bank accounts; it is also affecting couples’ relationships. In recent times of prosperity, couples worked hard and played hard, often creating debt as they focused on getting out, going somewhere special or buying something new. Since the economic downturn, many people now face limited funds for recreation and the prospect of losing investments and their homes. Increased debt and other financial problems add stress to a relationship, sending many couples spiraling into a downturn along with the economy. But it is possible to turn a down relationship up and reconnect in a positive way by turning financial struggles into financial strengths.
Many couples deal with a lack of connection, feelings of loneliness and conflict within their relationships. Often partners wish to spend more time together but don’t because of work and other family responsibilities. Money is instead used as a way to “connect” —a tool for easing anxiety and developing their relationships. In this new economy, couples have the opportunity to create a new way of connecting to each other—other than through bank accounts—and bringing joy back into their relationships.
Having more time can be a first step toward building a stronger relationship, but time together can bring its own challenges. Many couples become over-focused on problems and spend too much time discussing them. Communication is important, but too much can create an environment of constant crisis. A more useful strategy is to limit the “problem” conversations to times when both partners are rested, and focus those discussions on specific goals to negotiate toward specific solutions. For example, a couple may sit down once a week to review and prioritize bills. Partners can make lists of their individual priorities and then negotiate toward creating a workable list together. Once the list is set into motion, the “problem” conversation may be set aside and the remainder of time can be spent on activities that are stress-free and fun.
Tips for budget-friendly fun can include getting involved in your community, attending free or low-cost activities like walking festivals, outdoor concerts, local sporting events or lectures. These activities give couples the opportunity to reconnect not only with each other but with family, friends and neighbors. Couples may want to organize a potluck or create a romantic evening just for two. Candles, music and a hot bath can bring the joy back into a relationship and relax the stress away.
Taking care of yourself and your partner is a good investment no matter the state of the economy. Relationships present many challenges and learning how to navigate those challenges is central to a couple’s ultimate success and happiness. During this economic downturn, take the opportunity to create an upturn in your relationship.