No matter how careful you are with your money, sometimes life throws finances into a tailspin. Medical or legal expenses, unemployment or underemployment, and household or vehicle repairs can devastate a budget. In 2009, my husband and I began a five-year season of unemployment, temporary jobs, and finances that spiraled out of control. With bleak job prospects for my husband, no hope for promotion at my job, and three teens, we experienced a great deal of stress.
Despite the difficulty of this season, though, it was a time of tremendous growth and joy in our marriage.
A couple in financial crisis may face quite a few unknowns. Despite the instructions in Matthew 10:31 to not fear because we are worth more than many sparrows, many couples find that financial difficulty brings a time of great fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and strain to their marriages.
What can you do to help your marriage thrive in the face of financial difficulty?
Nurture Your Husband
Many men feel a deep need to provide for their families; a financial crisis can be unsettling. This is a time to build your husband up.
Respect goes a long way. (See this post from a previous 31 Days to a Better Marriage series.) Although I’d always handled our finances in the past, during my husband’s extended unemployment, I sought his input even more than before. I thanked him for his insight and pointed out ways that his suggestions were good for our family.
Acknowledge his efforts. I expressed my appreciation for my sweetie’s willingness to make sacrifices for the good of the family, whether it was big sacrifice (such as selling a collection) or a small one (forgoing a favorite brand of ketchup). When he applied for jobs or had an interview, I celebrated the effort even if we didn’t get the desired outcome.
Look for ways for him to spend time with other men. My husband needed to maintain his friendships. He benefited from the company of other men, and it was good for him to have a break from concern about finances. We invited our best friends over for inexpensive meals as often as possible. When my husband had a tough week with a lot of job rejections, I sometimes asked his best friend to take him out for coffee.
It's important for us to take care of ourselves, too. I worked hard to support my husband through our crisis, but the fact is that I needed support, too.
My own friendships helped me maintain some sanity. I couldn’t do things that cost money, but meeting for a walk in the park or a shared picnic lunch helped a great deal. I had good friends who I could talk to about my fears if I needed to but who could always redirect the conversation when I needed a distraction, too.