Are you losing it ……or sorting it?
How are you and your partner managing the fallout from the recession – do you think it is affecting how you are getting on?
Looking after your relationship can be the thing that will help you get through – so this month we have new articles, exercises and quizzes all designed to help you manage your relationship better through the tough times.
Have all the current uncertainties made you value your relationship more? Or are you worried and angry – taking it out on those around you?
Stress linked to financial worries or unemployment can be a trigger for violent behavior and can push people over the edge. The National Centre for Domestic Violence, a legal charity says they currently receive 6,000 calls a month – which is about a 30 percent increase on normal levels.
If your arguments have become violent or your partner has become aggressive to you or to your children then you need to know where to turn for help. Domestic violence is a complex issue but recognizing the warning signs is the first step to breaking free. Remember domestic abuse is not just physical abuse it can include emotional, sexual, and economic abuse as well; if you are worried about your partner’s (or your own behavior) there are several specialist organizations you can contact for help or advice.
Worried about everything
The Mental Health Foundation says 8 out of 10 people are worried about the impact of this recession.
You might be worried because your own life has changed or might be about to change.
Maybe you haven’t been ‘directly’ affected but feel anxious because the world and everyone around you is in such a mess.
People are feeling they have very little control over what will happen to them in during this recession and insecurity causes stress – often when we are stressed or feeling frightened we dump this stress on those who are nearest and dearest to us.
Life is particularly stressful because of the ‘combination’ of things worrying us – less money, job insecurity, fear of home repossession, having to cut back and having to make some tough decisions. People feel stuck and frustrated and this can lead to not sleeping, drinking too much and turning away from family and friends.
But it is in these tough times that turning ‘to’ rather than ‘away’ from our partner, family and friends that will help get us through.
Dealing with change
Dealing with changes together is key to any successful relationship but it is normal to feel confused and threatened especially when all the changes feel like negative ones. Will your relationship be strong enough, will you stay together if one of you becomes unemployed? As a couple is you willing to take on new roles? These are all common worries.
Underneath our practical money worries are feelings about control, power and independence. Most couples will have been used to keeping at least some of their money separate. But now one of you might be at risk of losing your job. Your partner will either say something like “Well I can’t support you. You need to get some money or else” or “Well actually, I’ve got enough money. I’ll look after you for a while”. But regardless of gender, some people feel uncomfortable with relying financially on the other.
Unemployment and redundancy don’t just affect couples through the loss of income; but for the unemployed partner, there is often a loss of confidence, a feeling of being worthless, depressed and lonely.
In the current UK recession, more jobs are being lost in the traditionally male sector. Research shows men are more negatively affected by losing their job than women. This may be because men often earn more so the loss of income may be more severe, but they may also get a greater sense of worth through their job and therefore feel more stigma if they are not able to provide for their family.
Also when one partner loses their job life around the home changes and couples can find it difficult to take on to new roles. Arguments often occur when an unemployed husband may be expected by his wife to do more household chores which he may or may not be happy to take on.
Arguments about money
All of these factors put additional stress on relationships and cause arguments. Research has found that rows about money are most problematic and repetitive but also they tend to be the hardest to sort out. Couples spend more time trying to sort out money arguments than other rows so it is really valuable to recognize this and learn to ‘argue better’. Otherwise, these arguments can dominate family life and increase feelings of being ‘stuck’.
Parents often think (wrongly) that their children aren’t aware of what is going on but when relationships are strained children can pick up on the atmosphere even if they don’t fully understand the issues that are causing it.
When parents are stressed out they become preoccupied and harsher or less involved with their children.
Sometimes one parent’s style will have changed and the other parent becomes more protective of the children. This often starts rows about parenting that can lead the children to think they are in some way to blame. It is these arguments that are mostly like to upset children.
As parents, we always want to give our children what they want and children know this and often use it to pester us! But in more strained times children’s ‘pester power’ can become a more difficult issue. Couples may struggle with their feelings around this – one of you may feel guilty that you are not able to afford things children want or you may disagree about what the children ‘need’. So arguments about when limited cash should be spent become a regular feature of day to day life. Many couples are prepared to sacrifice certain things for themselves but find it much harder when it comes to saying no to children.
Have a read of some of the new content on thecoupleconnection.net it will help you recognize that in tough times investing in your family relationships can be what gets you through. Also accepting that things are tough is the first stage to trying to sort things out so have a look at some of the other content on recession and relationships.