Ronn Elmore, Psy.d
On your wedding day, you may have spoken these words or some variation. But who knew that your and your mate’s “richer or poorer” commitment would ever be so severely tested?
In today’s brutal economic climate, many couples are facing overwhelming unemployment and financial stress that threatens to erode their relationship’s very foundation. The strain can turn your once happy home into a battleground and push your marriage to the breaking point.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With bold faith, and some intentional effort, it is possible to keep your marriage strong even when your finances are weak. Here’s how:
Pull Together to Push Together
The burden is much lighter when you’ve got a partner. Sit down with your mate to map out a plan to reduce debt and protect your resources. Come to an agreement on your short and long term goals. Then devise an action plan to achieve those objectives. If you need help enlist a money-savvy friend or a financial professional.
Think Before You Speak
Financial stress often triggers exaggerated accusations and blame that can suck the intimacy right out of your marriage. Before you spew out your frustrations and complaints, write them down first. Wait 24 hours, then edit out the uneccessarily mean, vengeful stuff. Only then should you voice your feelings.
Your Marriage is More than Money
In the midst of crisis, it’s tempting to give money the starring role in your marriage. Jobs may come and go. Houses and cars are dispensable. It’s important they don’t become your singular focus.
Start each day by expressing thanks to God—and to your mate—for you do still have together—instead of what you don’t. Your relationship is of far greater value than the things you own or the size of your paycheck.
Money Free Zone
Schedule time together when financial crisis-management is not the on the agenda. Remember when you were dating? You spent hours talking. Every conversation drew you closer as you opened up to each other. Keep the romance alive by stoking the fires of communication.
It may feel awkward at first, but be patient. The conversation will flow easier with a little practice.
Strengthen your Ranks
Financial problems can bring one loads of guilt and shame. Those feelings increase the pressure as you try to maintain an appearance to the outside world that all is well. Drop the façade and seek help for you and your spouse to navigate your way through these rocky times. Consider a financial advisor, marriage therapist, a pastor, or other skilled third party.
Touch Me in the Morning
During crisis times, spouses may lose sight of how vital sexual and non-nonsexual affection is to the relationship. Much scientific evidence suggests that loving, physical contact can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote emotional health.
So, do start working that budget and reducing your debt, but don’t stop flirting, cuddling and making love as if your marriage depends on it. In fact, it does.
Prayer: Private and Partnered
There is nothing you and your spouse can do that is more intimate than to pray. When you pray together you hear each other’s most profound—and previously undisclosed—yearnings.
Establish a regular time of prayer, together, about your finances and your relationship. Brief and simple works fine.
Your marriage relationship is your most valuable earthly asset. Sure, money problems can be traumatic. But they don’t have to take your marriage out. Invest in it to protect it and to increase its value.
Remember, your season of financial upheaval will eventually end, but your relationship doesn’t have to go bankrupt in the process.