You can hardly turn a newspaper page these days without someone offering strategies on how to “recession-proof” something.
Recession proof your portfolio, your career, your business, your pet’s retirement savings plan. How about recession-proofing your relationship?
There’s no doubt that with the impending economic challenges, relationships will feel the strain. Losing your job or your home or falling on hard financial times are almost never to-do suggestions in any of those how-to-strengthen-your-relationship guidebooks.
In her predictions for 2009, Petra Boynton, a U.K. sex educator (drpetra.co.uk) foresees “increased separation and divorce rates, substance and alcohol abuse, violence within relationships, and extramarital activity.”
A lost job, for example, not only results in financial strain, but there can be psychological problems faced by the person who is unemployed that can lead to tension, arguments, blame and worry. Also, as people cut back on spending, they won’t be able to enjoy activities that have usually helped them bond as a couple, like travelling or nights out together.
In order to “recession-proof” your relationship, Boynton suggests working together to identify any areas where you can save money:
• Draw up a budget to see if you are wasting any cash.
• Seek financial advice if things are difficult.
• Remember that you don’t have to spend money to enjoy being together. Come up with a list of free or low-cost activities — a walk in the local park, an evening where you cook a meal you share by candlelight, doing volunteer work together.
• Speak up about your concerns now. Financial issues have a habit of getting worse if you ignore them.
If and when problems do come up, be sure to offer each other support rather than trying to “fix” each other’s worries, adds Boynton.
If things get really tough, counselling, either individually or as a couple, may help.
However Boynton warns, don’t go this route just because someone on TV or in a magazine tells you to. Less reputable “therapists” or “coaches” may take advantage of the situation to get through their own financial crisis by convincing you their services are the only way to survive.
By working together and taking the right steps to recession-proof your relationship, it may be that the financial crisis does indeed end up strengthening your relationship after all.
– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.
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