Friday, October 23, 2009

Divorce - An Economic Indicator?

How’s the economy doing?

The “numbers” often obscure the picture: the stock market surges while unemployment slowly spirals upwards. As for GDP and the TED Spread…um…what?!?!?  In the end, no two economists agree on the answer to the question.

For most folks, the real question is this: How does the recession affect my day-to-day life?

We’ve heard the stories: journalists, restaurant owners and employees, pilots, automotive dealers, and factory workers who’ve lost jobs and businesses, families who’ve lost homes. More insidious effects likely lie beneath the surface—stress-induced health problems, rising crime…and according to this MSN money article from earlier this year, a decrease in divorce filings.

At first glance, it sounds like a silver lining. It's not such great news for family lawyers and investigators who specialize in divorce cases, but so what? Could it be good news for families? A case of external stress bringing couples closer, maybe?

Phoenix family-law attorney Bonnie Booden says unfortunately, no. “…Most people in the middle-income brackets are getting by on whatever income they have,” she tells MSN money, adding that many couples are choosing to stick it out for the time being because the cost of splitting a household into two is prohibitive. 

Add this little tidbit from a recent Independent article,  Why more desperate housewives choose to play away from home,” and you get a zesty stew of marital strife—increasing infidelity among women, middle-class couples who can’t afford a divorce.

Where does this leave spouses facing a lengthy in-home separation or attorneys and PIs in the uncomfortable position of playing counselor to an unhappily married client? It's damage control time, folks.

For a little help in the "making the most of things" realm, check out the work of Dr. John Gottman, the noted relationship researcher Malcolm Gladwell famously profiles in his 2005 book Blink. (see excerpt)

Gottman has observed thousands of couples for more than three decades, and he offers the following tips for improving relationships. For best results, steer away from the "four horsemen"--his term for the communications styles he considers most disastrous to relationships: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

You can read more about the four horsemen and myths of marital dysfunction here.



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