Can This Marriage Be Saved From Recession?

Fighting about money is the No. 1 source of arguing for couples. But now, in some of the worst financial times, money has become an even greater stress on couples.

Early Show contributor Vera Gibbons shares some tips on how to recession-proof your marriage.

The recession is not having a very good impact on marital bliss, according to Gibbons.

"Money is the No. 1 cause of stress in marriages and even the best of times," she said. "Now, in one of the worst financial downturns in history, as you can imagine, tensions are exploding. A recent PayPal survey found that about 50 percent of couples say they're fighting more. So you want to recession-proof your marriage before you become a statistic."

Redefine Wealth:

"In the boom years, wealth was about the car, the boat, the second home, the vacations - we lived too large," Gibbons explained. "We assumed too much debt. Now, of course, times have changed.

"We lost an awful lot of money. Eleven trillion dollars just last year alone. Twenty percent of our wealth has vanished. So you need to redefine wealth to include other riches beyond the material possessions, or lack thereof."

Establish and Accept New Roles:

Health, family and friends are all becoming much more important now.

With a new focus, we're seeing the resurgence of family dinners, which is a positive thing, Gibbons says.

"Well, this is an interesting statistic here, Harry. Over 80 percent of the job losses have befallen men because they're in those distressed industries," she said. "They're in manufacturing. They're in construction. They're in the auto sector, for example.

"And women tend to be in the growth industries like education, like health care, so it's wreaking havoc on the family dynamics, as you can imagine - causing all sorts of conflict."

"The hunter-gatherer is sitting there not hunting or gathering anything," Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith added.

"That's it. One in 10 households have actually seen a change in the family bread winner because of the recession," Gibbons said. "So you have a lot of these stay-at-home moms now becoming the primary bread winner and that trend is actually having the same impact. The woman could actually outdo the men in the workforce on the nation's payrolls as these layoffs continue."

Schedule Weekly Money Meetings:

Although it may not sound like a whole lot of fun, Gibbons points out that the idea is to work together as a team.

"You've got to sit down and talk about how we're going to pay the bills," she explained. "What are our goals five, 10 years out? How are we going to get retirement back on track? You have to have a plan. And also you really need to practice full financial disclosure.

"In times like these, you do see women going out and making sneaky purchases and men going out and making sneaky investments behind their spouse's back. Bad idea. That just makes the situation even worse."

It's A Family Affair:

Gibbons says everyone should have a role.

"I think if the kids are old enough to actually be spending money they should take a role in actually managing money. I think now is a good time to actually teach them, because they've seen the changes around the house.

"Maybe they're not going to summer camp this summer - all sorts of things. They hear about it all the time. So why not use this as an example to explain the hows and whys. Have a garage sale, make some money and do something with that money. Save it, use it to pay off your debt."

Go out and have fun!:

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. You have to believe that," Gibbons said.
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