Maintaining Stability & Passion Under Financial Strain - Interview on Fox 5 News

With all of the focus and fear around the economy, I don't want to add to the drama or scarcity perspectives. However, I was interviewed by Kristina Lee of San Diego Fox 5 News this morning (it will be aired on the 10pm news on Thursday, October 30) about how to keep money problems from negatively impacting a long-term relationship. I think this is a great question!

In times of financial strain, paying attention to and nurturing the health of our relationships is particularly important. When it comes down to it, our connections with other humans is fundamental to our well-being. However, money problems can lead to stress, and stress can lead to resentments, and stress AND resentments can reduce our sex drive and ability to be vulnerable and authentic.

What to do?
A B C ' S

A - Appreciation. Appreciate what you have already, financially and materially. This is a way to change your focus from scarcity to abundance. Also focus on your individual strengths, the strengths of your partner, and the strengths of your relationship, and express gratitude for this. This is an obvious yet powerful shift from negative to positive and is imperative for a strong foundation of security, stability, and love in your relationship.

B - Be Honest. Are you spending money and hiding it from your partner? If yes, check in with your motivations behind the spending. Are you an emotional spender? What needs are not being met and how do you use spending to fill that void? Also check in with how this dishonesty can be undermining your relationship. If your partner can't trust you financially, that is a huge burden of stress you're imposing on them, and your spending is likely causing stress for you as well.

C - Clear, Concise Communication. Schedule a meeting once a month with your partner to openly discuss your financial concerns (and financial successes, as well). Discuss your priorities, spending habits, needs, desires, and emotions. Be specific about what you are committed to in your finances. You can also use this structured time to check in with the health of your relationship overall and talk about these commitments.

S - Sex! Could you guess what the 'S' would stand for? I actually mean this to include the big picture around intimacy and sensuality. Are you looking for fun activities that don't cost much? Sex is free :) And how about other sensual activities? I think massage is the perfect activity for times like these between partners, whether feet, head, back, or full body. A massage: 1) is free; 2) reduces stress; 3) increases positive hormones; 4) improves sensual connection and intimacy; 5) allows you to prioritize your intimate relationship, even if just for a short time.

Do you have any other suggestions and ideas on this topic? Please comment here!

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego