A clear correlation between economic pressure and interpersonal conflict in intimate relationships has been established by many experts in relationships.

In a 2005 paper on “The Effects of Economic Pressure on Marital Conflict in Romania” (Journal of Family Psychology, 2005, Vol. 19. No 2, 246-251), for instance, M. Robila and A. Krishnakumar studied this correlation in post-communist Romania. Here the political changes in the process of transition from communism to capitalism created severe economic difficulties for families. Many Romanian couples were not adequately prepared for such transition that brought with it severe challenges and new problems, which they did not know how to handle.

Robila and Krishnakumar’s conclusions are that high levels of marital conflict presented aspects similar to those of their counterparts in the U.S. and other parts of the world, when exposed to comparable economic stressors.

Couples throughout the world, when exposed to economic distress show higher incidences of interpersonal conflict, depression, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Isolation is an important condition that aggravates stress in couples. When they experience economic difficulties, most couples tend to isolate from extended families and friends, because there is shame in being in their position. A tendency to cover up what is really going on eliminates opportunities for sharing one’s feelings and achieving better ways of managing them without letting them become overwhelming. When couples don’t have a support system outside of their relationship, they only have each other to rely on for support and comfort. What they need, however, may not be available to one another, because of lack of empathy for each other’s feelings and needs.

Bad economic times are frequently reflected in falling divorce rates, as indicated in studies about the great depression and economic hard times in other areas of the world. This is mainly due to the lack of financial opportunities for couples, who cannot afford to split up. Gregory Rodriguez, in an article titled “Divorce and Hard Times” (the Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2009), predicts an increased rate of divorces as soon as this recession will be over.

Is what’s happening in the U.S. today similar to what happened to couples during the Great Depression and what happened to Romanian couples as their country transitioned from communism to capitalism?

Author's Bio: 

Daniela Roher, PhD is a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Carefree, AZ and in Scottsdale, AZ. Daniela has worked in this field helping individuals and couples better understand their emotions and teaching them how to manage and regulate them, without letting them get overwhelming or frightening. She has been in this profession for over thirty years, both in Europe and the U.S. Aside from her reputation as a clinician, Daniela has developed a national reputation with her blog.