NOV 20 2012 / How money worries are affecting our relationships
Research into the experiences of Relate counsellors has shown that the economy is badly affecting the nation’s relationships. Almost half (47%) of the counsellors surveyed reported couples having to stay living together because they can’t afford to split up.
With 80% of counsellors seeing clients who cannot afford to finish or even properly start their counselling sessions, and couples suffering depression and ill health as the result of their money worries, couples and families need support more than ever.
Relate counsellor Denise Knowles offers some insight and advice into the impact of money worries on relationships.
How money can make people feel
Many people bind their identities to their employment and their position in their community and family. When they feel they can no longer hold onto their position, they can feel lost and without focus. Combining this with a loss of hope often leads to low mood and depression – and even suicide. The physical effects of anxiety and stress are well documented. Relationships and families that experience prolonged periods of stress and anxiety often find themselves not coping.
Impact on children
Children can often be badly affected by their parents’ arguments, and can end up feeling they are their fault, or that they need to fix everything for their parents. The survey even suggests that some older children even consider giving up their education to get a job and help with the family finances. Some might do both. These things can lead to poor levels of concentration and under-achievement at school.
The eight year old child of one family I worked with tried to get a job delivering leaflets on the way to school because he thought his choice of birthday present had thrown the family into disarray. He had no idea his father had been made redundant, as the subject was never mentioned. All he knew was that there was a bad atmosphere in the house, and his parents’ arguments always mentioned money.
Parents feeling guilty
However, the silver lining in this situation could be that parents have more time to devote to supporting and encouraging their children, making the most of a bad situation.
Not being able to afford to break up
It is striking that we’re seeing couples who know they need to separate but can’t afford to. Staying together under the same roof can create a whole raft of new challenges and tensions.
Everyday routines are challenged as the ‘separateness’ tries to establish itself as the couple still appears to be together to the outside world. Things like moving from joint to individual bank accounts need to be considered, and can cause unforeseen tensions. All this can be made even more difficult if one partner wants to stay together, and sees the ‘living together’ as an opportunity to change the other’s mind, or to deny there’s a problem at all. This will only lead to growing tension and stress.
Some very difficult conversations have to take place when couples find themselves having to live together when they would rather be a million miles away from one another. In situations like this, Relate can be a great help, providing a safe and confidential environment to have these difficult conversations. If that isn’t possible for you, talking and trying to draw up ground rules might help address potential pitfalls before they crop up.
The additional strain on families can lead to an escalation of emotions that can make it unsafe to stay in the family home.
Most importantly, if there is physical or verbal abuse in a relationship then it is vital that safety be attended to regardless of financial constraints, and there are agencies that will support the safety of those concerned. Find out more from Women’s Aid or call the national Domestic Violence Helpline number on 0808 2000 247.
If you are struggling with any of these issues contact Relate on: 0300 100 1234 or contact us via Live Chat.