In 2008, there were approximately 20,000 fewer divorces than in 2007 (2009 statistics are not yet available). These are the lowest dissolution numbers we've seen in 30 years.
According to a CBS report, couples are finding a new sense of togetherness. Realizing that they financially can't afford to split, they have no choice but to turn back toward their partner and work on their marriage. This is encouraging news indeed for those of us who still hope for the "happily ever after" stories.
But there are other families who are not experiencing a renewed sense of hope and togetherness as a result of this economy. Rather they are feeling more depressed and trapped than ever.
Instead of improving the quality of their relationships, the downturn in the economy, the decline in home values and 401K's and the lack of choices couples have is wreaking havoc on many people. With stress levels increasing, so are tempers and incidents of abuse.
Not everyone has a partner they can or want to work with on getting closer. What can these people do to get through until they get stronger financially?
1. Go to your local library and take out books on subjects that help you with self-care, clarifying the dynamics of your relationship or improving your finances. Libraries are an amazing resource and anyone can become a member, usually at no charge.
2. Another underused and free resource are 12-step programs. For a variety of reasons, these programs aren't right for everyone but they are a powerful, effective way to gain insight, empowerment and community and heal from maladaptive ways of living with your spouse and family.
Alanon is something I recommend to almost anyone, regardless of whether they are living with an active addict or not. Alanon teaches about disengaging with an unhealthy person and keeping the focus on yourself so that you can heal.
These programs are free (and often their books and literature is free to newcomers who can't afford it), they are available in just about every area but on-line and by phone as well. To find meetings, type in your local area and the 12-step program of interest. For example, "Houston Gamblers Anonymous."
3. Friends and family can be a wonderful resource as well but it can be hard to ask for help. If you are truly unhappy - or worse, unsafe - this is not the time to worry about burdening someone or revealing the level of problems you are facing. True friends and supportive family want to be there for you and won't judge you.
Many communities have low fee legal services, shelters, food and medical resources that you may be able to take advantage of.
These are the most challenging financial times most of us have seen in our lifetime and more people than ever are having to become more resourceful.