As economy goes from boom to bust, many relationships follow

Published: Apr. 2, 2009 at 3:45 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2009 at 12:52 PM EDT
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(NBC) - The threat of losing your home, losing your job and losing your savings can really make couples wonder if "happily ever after" is even possible in this economy.

Unfortunately many people don't receive strong support from their partner. Money woes have caused many couples to argue a lot, and focus more on finance than romance.

But just because the recession is putting a strain on relationships doesn't mean more couples are filing for divorce.

A recent survey of divorce attorneys found 40 percent said they had seen a decrease in divorce cases.

One reason it's cheaper to stay together, which may explain why licensed marriage, family therapist Invia Betjoseph says this year he's seen a dramatic increase in couples coming to him for help.

"Money is the No. 1 argument in relationships, and it ranks as one of the top reasons couples get divorced, along with abuse and infidelity," said Betjoseph.

He says when coping with money troubles, couples need to empathize, not criticize.

"It's very important to avoid pointing fingers, blaming each other," he commented. "If the loan is going to foreclosure, it's very important not to point fingers, or if there's too much debt, not to criticize about overspending."

And he says understand men and women react to stress differently.

When a man loses a job he usually retreats, women going through a lay off often want to talk about it a lot.

To recession proof your relationship, Betjoseph says you should communicate constantly, fight fair by calmly voicing your concerns and needs.

Celebrate the positive, tell your partner what they are doing right.

And make time for each other.

David and Eva don't spend a dime on their walks, and often end up laughing with each other, which helps relieve stress.

And don't take it personally if you find during these tough economic times your partner isn't in the mood for love.

"Stress and anxiety are a libido killer," Betjoseph said.

As David and Eva found, by always supporting each other, this tumultuous market can even offer an unexpected dividend.

"We're very thankful that we're not like all the others who are falling apart, but we are growing more stronger together," said Eva Sulewski.

Marriage counselors also say it's important couples sit down together and go over their budget and agree on ways to save money and resolve financial problems.

Then keep sharing your feelings about your plan every week.

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