How Can Love Survive in Times of Crisis?

NoraWith all the financial earthshaking tremors around us, we could make the mistake to think that their effects are only going to hit our retirement savings, or our monthly budget. It’s a form of denial that tries to reduce threat by limiting the level of what is perceived.
Make no bones of it: this present crisis is a global transformational crisis, shaking our present way of living and delivering us into a territory only known by the memories of our grandparents… We took for granted that life was the “good life” and that things could only go better. Now that things go backward, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it will be a money makeover!

There is much more at risk than money in the whole financial crises; it is a marital crisis.

What Kind Of a Crisis?

No, it’s not infidelity; or a work related move to a foreign country that drives your spouse crazy with homesickness, or the constant battles with the in-laws. It is the crisis beyond all the “normal” crisis you could know of before; the one that will shake your marriage to the core, a very test of your relationship viability and resiliency.
This crisis will test everything you have built, fought about, cherished and loved. If both parents are on the same page, cooperating and sharing decision making about crucial issues, the bond will get reinforced. No reproaching, or making the other feel guilty, or blaming will help navigate the crisis, but supportive communication will do.
So, if you decide to leave denial behind, and move forward with a sound plan of action, which is always better than nothing, then understand and use this plan of action.
We hope that the crisis will be somehow stopped, but if it is here for the long run, then it is better that you become the crisis leader you family needs.

Designing A Plan Of Action

Adopt an attitude of  "Our Marriage  And Family  Survival First":
Nothing is more important than keeping you two together; there is no financial decision that can yield better returns than to keep the family/couple together.
With this frame, call your partner and children of the right age to a family meeting; prepare food in advance and take the time to explain what you are going to do:
“We are here to think together how we can protect our family in the best way, if there are demanding circumstances pressing us. We wish it will not be necessary to execute this plan, but we will have a good plan just in case, and we will be better prepared.”
Now, propose a little exercise, giving a piece of paper to each person and ask:

  • What are the things you most value?
  • What is important? What is not so important?
  • How do you identify values?
  • List the things you individually can’t live without
  • List the things you both parents could do without;
  • List the things the children (if any) can do without

Let people write, list the values proposed from the most to the less shared, and then invite to a open discussion. Finally, DESCRIBE IN LOUD VOICE what are the couple’s or family’s values.
Once you know what the family values are, steer the conversation towards:

How to protect what we value most: what is important to us?
Find thrift, patience, ingenuity ad resourcefulness in the values selected.
Now, mention budget and ask: how do we connect what we have with what we want to do?
Accept suggestions from all about what is the best way with each item.
Propose a general plan for managing family finances, including planning a get together in a weekly date: fix the day and stick to it.
Close by offering some shared fun activity to do together after meeting.

MORE STRATEGIES:

Decide that decisions done in the past by only one of you are assumed as shared: no guilt or reproach here, as long as both sides agree on joint money management. Reproaching will only make you weaker. Decide on one more rule:

It is FORBIDDEN to complain!

Whatever is the amount you now have, it has to be managed by consensus. It is too important for the future to let one of the sides excluded or opting out of knowing what’s done. If you feel that you don’t know enough, begin to get educated now!
If something can not be decided on the spot, schedule it for next week, and do your research;
If you have a confrontation over an issue, apply the Fair Fighting technique;
Deal with emotional aspects in a serious way, and keep taking the temperature of the emotions:
Are we sad? Worried? Angry, or resentful? Invite people to acknowledge their emotions, not dwelling or acting up on them: (“Looks like we are all worried about paying for college education,”)

Expect negative emotions to wash over you, be alert and find creative ways of managing the emotional side of the financial transition. (“Can we limit the lamentation time to 5 minutes and after we go for a walk?”)
This transition will be always acceptable if you don’t lose also your marriage and family. The whole group can emerge from this crisis stronger by having survived together. SO, be alert to the signs of uncontrolled grief unleashing as anger at each other.

Remember that, albeit extraordinary circumstances, neither of you are responsible for the financial debacle and both can help each other in the transition to a new and different standing.

NoraNora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Visit her blog and signup free to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing coaching sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more! Go now to http://www.creativeconflicts.com.

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