Community Blog: How To Manage Stress As A Couple

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Community Blog: How To Manage Stress As A Couple

Our greatest joys and greatest sorrows often arrive in the context of our close relationships. When we look back over our lives, we remember the people we loved and our intimate times with them, as well as the losses, the conflicts, and those who drifted away.

In my book The Power of Women, I show you how women can harness their tremendous mental and interpersonal strengths to fortify their relationships and enrich their lives. Let me illustrate how one woman, Kirsten, overcame a threat to her marriage and her quality of life.

Like many couples nowadays, Kirsten and Greg found themselves staring down a foreclosure on the little bungalow they had bought in Sacramento, California. They had let themselves get talked into a sub-prime mortgage with an adjustable interest rate. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. Though they were young and just starting out in their careers, they had both already been quickly promoted and fully expected that they would see another leap in their salaries before any interest rate change kicked in. But just as their mortgage payments ballooned, Greg lost his job as the manager of a local vegetable farm. He became despondent, but Kirsten refused to give up. She called their bank and when she didn't get much help there, she called a local agency that helped people refinance their houses. Greg was sure they couldn't get any help because he was unemployed, but Kirsten persisted, working out a plan with the agency's financial counselor to get their mortgage payments down considerably. 7 Tips For Living With The Unemployed

Greg had put minimal work into the effort, again voicing pessimism that there weren't any jobs to be had in the economic downturn. Kirsten, however, scoured Craigslist everyday for employment opportunities and dragged Greg to an unemployment workshop that was run by their local synagogue. Within a month he had landed work with the state park service. The job didn't pay as well as his job as a farm manager, yet between Greg's paycheck and Kirsten's, they were able to afford their renegotiated mortgage. Step-By-Step Guide To Having The Money Talk

Women like Kirsten have extraordinary strengths that they bring to stressful times, like our current economic crisis. As I document in The Power of Women, these strengths fall into four categories.

1. Women have mental strengths, a flexibility that allows them to be creative and nimble in finding solutions to problems. Although Greg couldn't see any way out of their financial mess, Kirsten stayed optimistic and found a way to renegotiate their mortgage; then she creatively found Greg a new job.

2. Women have identity strengths that allow them to maintain a strong sense of themselves and their values in whatever situations they find themselves. They can deal with change and uncertainty because their sense of themselves isn't dependent on what they do or have, but who they are. When Greg lost his job, he lost part of his identity and became despondent; Kirsten saw the situation simply as a problem to be solved.

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