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Don't stress out over cash crunch

Coping with Financial Crisis advice from Dr. Christine Sacco-Bene, Assistant Professor,printed in Miami Herald

Most couples would agree that a main source of stress in their relationship comes from disagreements about money. Relationships and money can be a volatile combination. With our troubled economy, it is no surprise that couples not only are feeling the strain from shrinking 401(k)s or unemployment, but are also feeling strain in their relationships. As a licensed mental-health counselor, I know that to keep stress manageable there are a few things you and your partner can do:

  • Recognize that you and your partner may handle stress differently. There is no particular way that either of you should experience your situation. Strong couples are dedicated to one another's well-being and recognize the other's needs.
  • Talk to your partner. Couples should spend time talking with and listening to one another.
  • Work together. Developing a budget together and encouraging each other's ideas are important for your financial situation and your marriage. When developing a budget or financial plan, use task-oriented communication to identify difficulties and determine solutions that work reasonably well for both of you.
  • Consider the adage: Through crisis comes creativity. Financial difficulties, such as unemployment or loss of benefits, present significant change for you and your partner. This does not mean that you are ''at the end of your road.'' This challenge may offer an opportunity to be creative. There may be possibilities that you have been overlooking. Talk to family members, financial advisors and credit counselors to gather information and, perhaps, to find new creative solutions.
  • Be patient. Budgeting and financial planning, like a relationship, are ongoing commitments.
  • Take a break if you find that stress is getting to you and your partner. Strong couples spend time together doing things that they enjoy. You do not necessarily need to spend money to relax and enjoy each other. When you return to your discussion, you likely will be refreshed and have more patience to work through your disagreement.
  • If your relationship is getting worse as a result of arguments about finances, consider seeking marital or couples counseling. Financial issues can impact a relationship, and a counselor may be able to help you find healthier ways to relate.
  • Maintain spiritual well-being. Couples describe spirituality in many ways; and despite these different definitions, spiritual well-being can provide a sense of healing during the most challenging times.

CHRISTINE SACCO-BENE, assistant professor, Adrian Dominican School of Education, Barry University, Orlando

Posted on Sunday, 11.02.08 Miami Herald


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