Nothing shows you what you’re really made of as a couple more than a money crisis. There are a lot of heavy emotions on both sides when life is thrown off kilter.
In 2009, we lost over half of our income through an unexpected layoff. It was a very harrowing and stressful time and we lost our home. It was hard to recover in a difficult economy.
People still ask us how we made it through the stress of that horrible year with little fighting, and our marriage still in tact. (There was bickering for sure, but it was manageable).
So I put a little list together of the things we did in survival mode to stay together. Some I wish we did better, but hey, we’re still here.
1. Easy on the grumbling
It doesn’t mean that you don’t have grumbles, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t address them, it just means that you take care to present them well.
There are legitimate fears that will work their way out in your actions. Talk about them when you are calm. No one feels good after a money fight.
2. Know that nothing lasts forever
That goes for both good times and bad. There are seasons, and this is the “for worse” part. Go easy, nothing beats a person down more than being berated by their partner in a money crisis. It’s stressful and painful and it really sucks, but hang on.
3. Be careful in pointing fingers
Sometimes it’s somebody’s fault, sometimes it’s nobody’s fault, and sometimes it’s a series of small things over time. It’s important to know what went wrong for the future, but the Blame Game won’t help you in survival mode. And if you’re the one that needs to make a change, be willing to see it.
4. Love them through it
Whether it was in the person’s control or not, it is a huge blow to one’s pride to lose a job, especially for men. There are layers to what is happening with both parties.
One loses a sense of security, the other loses a sense of worth, and both act accordingly. Think of your partner and be supportive. People act out for a reason.
5. Now is the time for hugs just because, lunch box love notes, and messages taped to the bathroom mirror
Even when you don’t feel like it and you’d rather punch them, that’s when it’s needed most. It could change the course of everything if you show love instead.
(I once taped an I Love You note underneath the top cover of the toilet lid. I know that’s a little gross, but I was going for the surprise factor and it was successful.)
6. Be honest
It’s okay to be scared. Don’t pretend you aren’t scared. Danny once bought a $10 fast food lunch without telling me, and I blew a gasket.
I had really started to worry, and I just expected him to know we should save every dime. But I never said it out loud. Your team strategy can change quickly, discuss it!
7. Be willing to change roles
I wanted to be a full time mom just before he was laid off. But I kept working to keep us afloat while he took care of the baby and looked for work.
It wasn’t ideal, but we made do for that season. Now I’m at home with the kids and he works. You can do anything when you work together.
8. Also be willing to do what you have to do
Danny took an extra job on the overnight shift putting children’s bicycles together for more income because we really needed it. And I loved and respected him all the more for it.
Pray if you’re the praying kind, and pray if you aren’t the praying kind. I promise it won’t hurt you.
A small prayer in a desperate time led me to really look at my spiritual life, and myself and I think that was the most important benefit of all, for me and my family. (Healer)
10. Take time to heal
It was such a relief after our house finally sold at a loss, but it took some time before it felt like a happy ending. A little down time is needed after the storm.
We lived in a little apartment for a few years after that to just breathe, and it was much needed. You don’t have to have a perfect house in the suburbs. Life can still be good.
We now have a little house out in the country that we love, and real life happens there too. We had a large crawl space repair that took a huge chunk out of our savings last year.
But we’ve lived and we’ve learned, and now we know what to do, and we are going to be just fine. We had our health, food and shelter the whole time.
Don’t let a money crisis take your marriage. You can come out stronger on the other side.
We at long last got our finances under control using the following products: (affiliate links)