Financial Stress and your Relationship

Finances are one of the top stressors for couples.  Unfortunately, the financial health of many couples has been negatively impacted through the events of this year.  Many couples are finding themselves asking how they get through these stressful times and also keep their relationship intact.  

Financial concerns are one of the difficult topics that can cause division within a couple.  But one misconception is that division comes from conflict about the topic.  The real division comes from not addressing the topic together. Oftentimes, one partner is more hands-on than the other partner with regard to finances.  This can cause an imbalance in the awareness of the status of the household finances.   In tough times, it can seem easier to try to fix it yourself if you are the relationship’s financial manager.   This is an important time to turn toward your partner, rather than turning away. 

As you probably already know, communication is key. 

Here are some tips on how to communicate about finances:  

  • Be Gentle. According to John Gottman, PhD, couples who are gentle with how they bring up their concerns are far more likely to have a positive outcome with their discussion.  You can be gentle by talking about your feelings (scared, fearful, depressed, etc.) and being specific about the situation (not working as much, stock market performance, etc.)
  • See the situation through your partner’s eyes. You may not have the same concerns they do, but they are turning to you for validation as much as comfort. 
  • Don’t move to a solution too early. Partners often make the mistake of responding to their partners fears and concerns by offering ideas of how to fix it.  This can feel dismissive to your partner who is being vulnerable by bringing up their fears.  First seek to understand.   

Lastly, recognize that the two of you don’t have to go it alone.  If the two of you just can’t seem to move through the challenge, consider couples therapy.  

If you would like to hear more, tune in to GROW Counseling’s podcast as Dr. Wendy Dickinson and I discuss this topic further.

Written by: Jackie Dunagan