Caution: Economic downturn can erode relationships
Finances are typically among the top issues spouses and partners will face. Adding in an economic downturn--or recession--can increase stress and anxiety about financial issues and damage relationships, a Kansas State University specialist said.
The economy will likely improve with time, but relationships may not always recover, said Charlotte Shoup Olsen, K-State Research and Extension family systems specialist.
"The relationship with a spouse or partner (and family and friends as well) can be among the first casualties during an economic downturn," Olsen said. "It's the little things, the 'pleases,' 'thank-you's,' everyday appreciation and compliments such as 'Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen,' that often are lost in the struggle to make ends meet."
Acknowledging a change in circumstances can be the first step in protecting relationships from the added stressors, Olsen said. Spouses and partners who agree to face difficult times and choices together can nurture--and strengthen--their relationship in the process.
Working together to improve financial management skills and explore options and resources often can ease financial and other stresses, yet also nurture spouses, partners and their families as a resilient team, Olsen said. Her stress-reducing tips include:
--Work together to identify priorities.
--Try to focus on the things you can control; let go of the rest.
--Explore opportunities to resolve needs. Be creative in researching solutions and, when possible, allow time to consider options.
--Be intentional in speaking with others. Speak softly and gently to each other; being harsh--or angry--isn't likely to produce a positive outcome.
--Be practical. Here's an example: A family needs a new stove. Dusting off a slow-cooker can reduce the stress in getting a meal on the table and free up time to track down an affordable new or used stove.
--Be as positive as possible. Children and others around you will pick up on your attitude.
--Look for ways to celebrate what you have, rather than focusing on what you don't have.
Working together to resolve issues can be difficult, but doing so reinforces a positive message--"I'm there for you"--that almost always can reduce stress and anxiety.
More information on managing family relationships successfully is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on the Extension Web site: www.oznet.ksu.edu.