With all the dire news regarding the global financial situation dominating the headlines, the difficulties facing individuals’ (and couples’) finances may have unforeseen consequences for the relationships of many people throughout the world. Research has shown that money is one of the most (if not the most) common factor contributing to married couples’ arguments. The worsening economic picture in many countries is likely to put a great deal of additional stress on a large number of relationships.
Although the immediate fallout of the global economic problems on couples may not be evident for years, there is the possibility of what scientists call a “cohort effect,” in which there is a group of people with a common experience due to the events taking place at a specific time in their lives. For example, GIs returning to the United States and Canada after WWII were very ready to settle down and start families: many desired a return to a sense of “normalcy” that was given up when they went off to fight in Europe or the Pacific. This resulted in a strong spike in birthrates which we often call the “baby boom” generation. Many men who might not otherwise have married or had children (at least not at that specific time) ended up doing so within the span of a few years.
It does not take too much imagination to think about the effects that the weakened economy could have on couples today. Perhaps years from now, we’ll look back to see a large proportion of divorces and/or breakups; relationships that would not otherwise have ended (at least not at the specific time they did) had they not been exposed to the stresses of the current financial environment.