The bail out passed. Great news, but for most Americans the bail out does not mean an instant reduction in gas, food, or retail prices. Families everywhere are trying to make ends meet and this creates a huge amount of stress. We know that both divorce and domestic violence rates go up in tough economic times. How is your relationship doing? Are you arguing about finances? Even if you aren't - is your financial situation putting a strain on your marriage?
During tough times like this- communication is critical. Knowing how to have a discussion or even an argument may actually save your marriage. Here are some simple ways to make your discussions as a couple healthy and productive. Financial worries are one of the most common topics of arguments among couples and very often financial disagreements can be the pre-cursors of divorce. Here are some simple strategies to make the most out of your financial discussions. These tips are drawn from the work of Dr. John Gottman (www.gottman.com ).
1. Keep your cool - One of the most important things to remember is that when your emotions are flying be it anger, sadness, frustration- you can’t think as clearly. Take a minute or 2 or 10 to calm down. Then start to talk
2. Soften your "start up." Arguments often “start up" because some one makes a critical remark or talks in an angry tone. Try to bring up problems gently and without blame.
3. Don’t be a mind reader … Talk about your feelings- not what you think your partner is feeling. Start your sentence with the word “I” and focus on identifying what you’re feeling and why.
4. Think – then speak. Common sense- but once the words are out- YOU CANT TAKE THEM BACK. Remember the goal of the conversation is to solve the problem not to “win”.
5. Repair before exiting. Bottom line here is don’t let the argument get out of control. Do something to end on a positive or at least neutral note. So doing things like changing the topic to something completely unrelated; using humor; offering a positive comment, letting your partner know you are on the same team. And finally backing down- yes- sometimes it is much better to back off than to stand your ground.