Spirit, Money, and Relationships: Guest Post by Kim Leatherdale

Economic problems cause major stress (I hear you saying “no duh!”) Job loss, cut in pay, cut in hours, or failure at a business can put pressure on a people.  Financial stress mars the spirit and makes even the healthiest person forget good relational skills. Too often these external pressures erode relationships inside and outside of work.

So, how do you safeguard all your relationships in these economically trying times?

Firstly, make sure you are communicating.

As a couples therapist, I encourage my clients to be honest with each other about what is going on at work and with finances even if it is difficult. Many men struggle with the imperative “be a provider” and worry if their ability to “bring home the bacon” is threatened, then they are a failure. This is far from the truth, but if you hide your struggles from your partner, the fallout will be greater than some feelings of shame.

Have you ever hidden money problems from your partner? It’ll bite you.

At work, communication is just as important.  Nothing is worse than not knowing what is going on.  Ask questions and don’t spread rumors.  Keep each other up to date without exaggerating or being a worrier.  Stick to the serenity prayer.  Meditate.

Next, work as a team with your partner.

This is not the time to bury your head in the sand and let your loved one take care of it all. Get aware of what is coming in, what is due, and what is saved. That way you and your partner can make sound decisions. Ask each other for opinions or ideas; you never know what another point of view will bring to the table. Respect your partner with the belief they truly can function as a partner.

Team spirit isn’t just for cheerleaders and sports in school.  At work, a sense of shared commitment and direction will help you and your co-workers weather tough times- even financial.  If anyone feels alone, hung out to dry, or disconnected, you’ll lose out on important support.  Help create team spirit even if your bosses don’t:  talk up the mission, the real goals, and what you see as truly important about what you all do.

How else can you help each other pull through financial strains?

Support your partner and ask for support even if it is difficult. Both of you are probably stressed about the whole deal; this means you can empathize. It also means there are times when you speak and times when you listen. I have a couple who both are struggling- her customer numbers have fallen, and his venture business is not taking off. Sometimes she needs to talk, to just have him listen- he’s recently learned how important this skill is, and he’s practicing. In return, she has learned to not constantly bug him about his business and what he’s doing about it; she realized he’s working hard and can’t control it all. Both of them are creating healing moments with these decisions, and it helps them get through.

The same is true at work.  Sometimes your coworkers need to talk to be heard, other times they need feedback and suggestions.  Make sure you clarify your role in the discussion.  If you need either of these things, make sure your listener knows your expectation.  I do also suggest you stay away from constant griping and sniping; they both sap the spirit and energy out of you.  If you find yourself (or another person) falling into the snipe/gripe trap, ask, “What are you going to do to change what you can about it?”

What is the number one thing you can do?

Realize the finance climate is affecting all of you. Be kind to one another, support each other, give encouraging words to partner and colleagues, and hug your partner often.

Today’s courageous work:

1.    Talk with your partner about finances. Make sure you both are clear where you stand and what the plans are (current and backup.) Ask each other what each wants in relation to money problems (ideas, plans, an open ear.)
2.    Create a sense of positive energy and team spirit in your workplace with open communication, good listening, and a lack of snipe/gripe.
3.    Communicate, be a team, support one another, and realize you all are affected.

Kim Leatherdale LPC is the Happy Couple Expert.  She regularly shares easy tips and useful information  at http://creatingrewardingrelationships.blogspot.com/

She also offers video, phone, email, and in-office counseling sessions for couples and individuals; contact her via her blog profile.  Follow her on Twitter- HappyCoupleXprt- for fun quotes and hints.