Top five tips to recession-proof your marriage

March 2, 2009 4:21:51 PM PST
Tips on keeping the down economy from affecting your marriage.
  1. Expand your definition of "wealth" and "security" to include all of your riches - good health, hobbies, pets, friendships, and most importantly your spouse and family.

  2. Set up weekly budget meetings that include not only talking about finances, but also the best ways to handle anxiety, feelings and your marriage. Also schedule weekly meetings of a more romantic nature. In times of uncertainty - it helps to create as much predictability in you life as you can - scheduling the good (and the uncomfortable) does just that.

  3. Flexibility in the face of change is the best defense. Uncover the secret psychological expectations you have about what a "husband" or "wife" should be and consider expanding those concepts to meet new economic realities. Consider new problem solving techniques too.

  4. Be aware that stress and anxiety deplete emotional resources of every kind - everyone has a little less resilience right now, and everyone needs a little more support. That gap can be the start of misunderstandings that can mushroom into real conflicts. Don't jump to conclusions and focus more on your spouse and less on yourself.

  5. Focus on what you can do, avoid panic around what you can't do. Remember, fear is just a warning bell - worrying does not solve problems, it short circuits rational thinking. Be mindful and stay in the present. Help others - it's empowering.
The most common guy/gal misunderstanding:
He withdraws and she nags. These two things together create a cycle of behavior - the more she nags the more he withdraws, the more he withdraws the more she nags. It can be fixed in a snap! Women should keep in mind that underneath withdraw is often fear - fear of disappointing YOU. Fear that you'll find him less attractive and worthy of your love.

Men should keep in mind that underneath nagging is a need for reassurance - reassurance that you're still in love with her and value her (that the withdrawal isn't personal).

By focusing on what your spouse needs instead of your own fears you get relief from your own worry, recognize your power and importance to that other person, and stamp out misunderstandings before they start.

About Kit Yarrow, Ph.D.
Dr. Kit Yarrow is an award-winning consumer research psychologist and a professor of both business and psychology at Golden Gate University. She's the author of Gen BuY: How Teens, Tweens and 20-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail, which will be published by Jossey-Bass in August.