Friday, March 26, 2010

Money, Mortgages and Marriage

Here is another area where the reprehensibly criminal behavior of the banking and finance industries has done immeasurable damage - the area of family life.

Financial problems are one of the major stressors on a marriage.  The issues that money represents are deeper than the actual dollars and cents; money represents power, control, independence, self-worth, security - issues that cut to the core of a relationship. But what is sad is that, at the very time when partners need each other's support the most - during hard times - is often the time when the pressures of financial trouble cause them to lash out at the closest person to them - their spouse. And even the best marriages have their weak spots, which under pressure can turn into ruptures.

That is the cruelest blow of all. It's one thing to lose a structure. As much as we value our house, in the end it's just a 'thing'. But our spouse, our family - that is what really matters, and unfortunately that can also become a casualty in the war being waged against the middle class and poor.

My husband and I are determined that, no matter what, our money problems are not going to cost us our treasure, which is our marriage and kids. These thieves cannot take that away from us. So we have talked about it and made a pact that we are going to pull closer together instead of being driven apart by the pressures of foreclosure and bankruptcy.

When we get irritated, frustrated, fearful or anxious - as we will and we do - we are going to stop and think before we snap at each other. And if one of us does 'snap', the other will not take it to the next level, but understand that we are both under enormous pressure and let it go. And the one who snaps knows that it's important to apologize.

We are not going to blame each other for the situation we're in. We know whose fault it is that we - and millions of other Americans - are in this mess, and that we both have done the best we can. Instead, we are going to work together to try to get out of it. If I 'win' and you 'lose', I lose too. Who wins? The banks.

We are not going to isolate ourselves from each other. Not that we both don't need some alone time, but to disconnect emotionally from each other is the death knell for a relationship.

We are going to make the extra effort to 'woo' each other, and be conscious of why we fell in love in the first place. We remember that of all the people in the world, our spouse and kids are the ones in our corner, and the ones it is most important to treat with kindness and respect.

We are going to appreciate and be grateful for what we do have, and not take it for granted or focus on what we don't have. We know so many people who have every material thing you could want and more, and very few of those people have happy family lives - acquiring and keeping all that stuff tends to require a kind of single-mindedness that can take precendence over a spouse and kids.

The banksters may be able to take away our house, but they can't take away our home unless we let them. If I let them take my home, where my heart is, then they really do win. And that is a price I will not pay.

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