The recession will affect relationships in different ways, and just how couples deal with economic turmoil will depend on a multitude of factors. While the prevailing tone of this roundup (of perspectives on what happens to couples as they wade through financial woes) by the editors at The New York Times is a tad negative, a few panelists shed light on positive points. Here are those that rose to the fore:
Talking through the tough times can strengthen relationships, pointed out Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington. "A bad economy can force people to take up these difficult conversations. If couples are honest and compassionate with one another, if they learn to work it out as a team, they could emerge with a better relationship," wrote Schwartz. Difficult times spawn deep, solution-seeking discussions. It's the act of plowing through the issues and mining for fixes together that can build intimacy, connectedness and ultimately bring couples closer together.
What's more, in recent decades gender roles have gained mega-flexibility. This gives modern couples a large advantage over depression-era couples, writes Stephanie Coontz, a family-history teacher at the Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash. "Hostility toward working wives is much lower than in the past, and respect for their contributions to the family is at an all-time high. If couples can nurture this flexibility, minimize lingering ideas that a man’s masculinity depends on his paycheck and take the opportunity to rethink the escalating consumerism and workaholism of the past 30 years, couples may be able to build new family priorities."
Perhaps that's the key word right there, prioritizing. No matter what type of relationship we find ourselves in during this recession, it's likely that most couples will experience some sort of re-evaluating of what's most important in life. Much of getting through the economic hardship may depend on a couple's ability to stay connected through the shift and their ability to express disappointments and worries stoked by the economy, finding ways to connect in difficult times rather than drift apart.
Now we want to hear from you! Tell us readers: How is the recession affecting your relationship?