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Coronavirus pandemic causing financial and mental stress at home

The Rebound
Posted at 12:37 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 15:37:35-04

PHOENIX — Many of us are still stuck at home and struggling through what could be a new normal for you and your family.

Maybe you lost your job.

Maybe you took a pay cut amid the pandemic.

This kind of financial stress can put intense strains on your relationships with your husband, wife, or partner.

"Money is hard for couples to navigate, you know, we hear that money is the number one cause of divorce. That's a common saying and money certainly is one of the top causes of divorce and just a hard topic for couples," said University of Arizona Family Finance Researcher Ashley LeBaron.

Right now, money is on everyone's mind.

Experts are predicting that the coronavirus will result in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"Financial stress... there is research showing that it can take a toll on our physical health, our mental health,... definitely our relationships," LeBaron said. "So there's definitely something to avoiding financial stress."

That, of course, is easier said than done and whatever stress you may be carrying could be crippling to your relationships.

"We're focused on just kind of getting by and so our time and attention and effort and resources are put towards just the basics... just surviving," LeBaron described.

LaBaron has been studying what money struggles do to relationships. She is a doctoral student in the University of Arizona's Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Two different couples could go through the same challenge and depending on their attitude about it and the lens through which they view that challenge, they may have completely different outcomes," LeBaron explained.

Her research is based on the 2008 recession and she actually found some surprising results.

Regardless of the couple's background and their current financial status, there were many success stories.

"As a message of hope, some research that I've been apart of has actually found that times of stress like this... going through stressful times can actually, for some couples, be a catalyst for positive relational growth," LaBaron said.

So how do you make that turn to see good come from money stress? LaBaron said, couples who were successful practiced what is called "relationship maintenance behaviors."

"Relationship maintenance behaviors are those little things that kind of add up over time", LaBaron explained ."Kind of selfless things that couples do for each other on a daily basis to maintain a happy, positive, loving relationship and to show their love and appreciation for their partner."

Things like doing a chore for them, making dinner, simply telling them how much you care, etc.

Things like doing a chore for them, making dinner, simply telling them how much you care, etc.

"However they're navigating this is to make sure they're doing it together," LaBaron said.

To read more tips LeBaron shared from her research, click here.