7 Ways To Keep The Stress Of Money, Sex & Secrets From Ending Your Relationship

Photo: Nadezhda1906, Mangostar Studio | Canva 
stressed Couple

Secrets, intimacy, or money (or secrets, sex, and money?) — the most common sources of stress in marriages. More often, it’s usually secrets about intimacy and money! According to one study, 33% of people admitted to lying to their spouses about finances with an estimated 7 million Americans reporting that they are hiding a secret bank account. In one poll, over 1000 U.S. adults self-reported that personal financial concerns were the number one stressor! Notably, our society is increasingly more stressed out than it was 6 months ago or even 5 years ago! So, if stress isn’t going anywhere, then what can you do about it?

Secrets are insidious and can be a dangerous slippery slope that starts with a small detail you leave out when talking about your day, to a white lie about how much you spent at the store. Over time, it becomes a habit, and like any habit, the lie grows bigger and wider until you feel like your life is out of control! If you're lying or withholding information from your spouse, life can spin between fear, guilt, shame, resentment, and justification for what you did (and why you did it). Then you do it all over again.

At this point, you’re numb and the only thing you feel is exhausted and alone. You’re alone in this marriage with a partner who does not know you and you don’t know how to change it. If you find yourself living a lie with your spouse, you must take steps towards healing that gap —  even if you have to reach out to a relationship professional or your pastor. Don't delay! If your marriage is in trouble, it probably looks like a big mountain of issues from where you’re standing.

As a first step, you have to decide to begin changing the pattern of communication between the two of you. So, reach out to him in kindness. Manage a calm demeanor and ask him when he’s available to sit and talk, just the two of you without interruption (not late at night, not after drinks, and always turn off cell phones). It’s best when you are rested and fresh. Once the two of you have figured out your sources of marriage stress and have made a plan to communicate, you can do the real work of addressing your marriage problems. 

RELATED: 10 Unfair Relationship Expectations That Severely Damage Your Marriage

Here are 7 ways to keep the stress of money, sex, and secrets from ending your relationship:

1. Make up your mind right now to cope differently

Change your mindset from worried and negative (or angry and grumpy) to hopeful, determined, and positive! Be brave and look directly at the problem. Try this technique: Talk to yourself about the problem the same way your best friend would talk to you about the problem! Your best friend would be patient, supportive, and caring. Your best friend would be your cheerleader and tell you that you can do this and how you will get through this successfully!

2. Relax, breathe and start calmly

Remember this is your chance to be his best friend and to support him throughout the conversation so that together you successfully get through the more difficult parts of the conversation with a loving attitude.

RELATED: 11 Tiny Bad Habits That Destroy Even The Strongest Marriage

3. Let go

This is about forgiving yourself —  and each other —  for past actions and moving forward with a dedicated goal of healing the problem and eliminating the stress in your relationship.

4. Work as a team

Ask for your partner’s help so that each of you own your part of the process.



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5. Start small and work your way up

Start with small incremental steps, and when you are successful, move to intermediate steps. Then, once you have some success together under your belt, tackle larger steps to finalize success. Decide on which stressor you're going to deal with, name the stressor, define it, and then work together to eliminate it! Break the problem down into user-friendly steps by communicating clearly to ensure understanding between the two of you. Example: You can pay off one bill or all the bills, get a new job, telecommute, instead of commuting long distances, or come home early one night a week for family dinner (or date night). Identify together your number one stressor that is negatively impacting your marriage.

6. Appreciate what you have

Visualize your life without the stressor and talk to each other for a few moments about what that would look like and how it would feel. This is a very powerful tool for positive change. Share the fantasy!     



7. Schedule weekly check-ins

Make it a weekly conversation so that you can “check in” with each other to see how it’s going and make adjustments as needed. In this way, it will become fluid rather than rigid. It will be collaborative and voluntary rather than dictated or demanded. In summary, there is hope for resolving the stresses in your relationship. Try to remember that true intimacy is about sharing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Honesty begins with sharing how you feel with your spouse. Now you have the skills and tools to help you communicate, honestly, and move your marriage or relationship forward. 

RELATED: 14 Things Couples In Sweet, Stable Relationships Do To Deepen Their Love

Margot Brown, LMFT, PsyD, is a career and divorce coach, and the author of Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On Or Move Out, a guide for better communication between couples.