Financial problems and relationships

Redundancy, debt and money worries can all put pressure on your relationship with your partner. Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor at Relate, offers advice on how to ease the strain. 

If you are made redundant, loss of income is the most obvious difficulty, but being without a job can also affect your self-esteem and self-confidence.

For some couples, existing problems are made worse because of the additional pressure they're feeling. For others, coping with a new situation can lead to tension.

Denise says that financial difficulties can make people blame each other for their situation. She says, for example: "A wife may tell her husband he has no right to go out drinking with his mates if it means their child has to go without a new pair of shoes."

For some couples, having less money means that they can no longer deal with problems the way they used to.

"It may be that in the past they bought their way out of a problem with a holiday or a present. If that money's not available, they have to develop new ways of coping," says Denise.

Any stressful situation can also have an impact on your sex life: "A lot of people avoid intimacy when they feel under pressure."

How to ease the strain money puts on your relationship

'A lot of people avoid intimacy when they feel under pressure' Relationship counsellor Denise Knowles

There are many things you can do to improve your relationship and lots of places you can go to for help and support.

Getting financial advice can ease your worries

Deal with the practical side first. Talk to your mortgage lender and bank if you're concerned about meeting payments or going over your overdraft limit. Get advice on paying off your debts, find out what benefits you may be entitled to, and work out a plan to search for jobs.

"People who've never been in this situation before may feel embarrassed," says Denise. "Don't be. The people who work as advisers are there to help. If you don't want to talk about your problems in person, use telephone helplines and look at the information that's available on the internet."

There are many organisations that can help. The Citizens Advice Bureau website has information on benefits, how to deal with debt, what you're entitled to if you're made redundant, and who to turn to if you lose your home.

Other useful organisations offering advice on debt include:

Be open with each other about money

Talk to your partner about your worries. Excluding them can cause resentment. Discuss the issues and try to work out a way you can deal with them together. For example, you may need to see a financial adviser together, or agree on a budget for your weekly spending.

It's also useful to talk to friends. "Men are more likely to keep problems to themselves and become isolated," says Denise.

"Women are more likely to unburden themselves to girlfriends. Although talking to friends won't fix the problem, it will help you feel a bit better because you're not bottling it all up."

Talk about your losses

Discuss how losing your job or having less money is affecting you as individuals and as a couple. Look at where you spent money on having fun together and think of ways you can do things together without spending money, such as going for a walk or cooking a nice meal at home.

Appreciate the little things in your relationship

Think about small gestures you can make, such as running a bath for your partner or making them a cup of tea. These little things can help you feel closer.

Keep kissing

Any stressful situation can affect your sex life. "Low self-esteem can be an issue as well," says Denise. "Sometimes people who are made redundant feel their performance has been criticised, and this can cause problems.

"Don't stop cuddling, stroking each other and kissing each other. You can still maintain an intimate and sensual relationship."

Further relationship help

If you don't feel you can work things out on your own, there are people who can help and support you. Talking to a professional therapist could help – your GP can advise you on psychological therapy services in your area.

Find more information about Relate's relationship counselling services.

Read more about coping with financial stress.

Help with your relationship: couples therapy

Relationship counselling is for couples who want to resolve issues within their relationship. In this video, relationship counsellor Denise Knowles explains what couples therapy involves and who it can benefit.

Media last reviewed: 07/05/2013

Next review due: 07/05/2015

Page last reviewed: 16/05/2013

Next review due: 16/05/2015

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