With the ever increasing cost of living in large cities the economic impact upon relationships takes a heavy toll. As a relationship counsellor in Sydney I see many couples who experience economic hardship due to affordability of housing and the overall costs of living in a big city.
Increasingly couples are cohabiting in multiple relationships before committing to either marriage or long term de-facto relationships. Traditionally there has always been a strong belief that most peoples’ understanding of relationships came from their family of origin. In recent research not only has the family of origin been attributed to moulding the values and opinions of couples but also the early cohabiting relationships they have experienced.
Research suggests that economic stress has become a significant contributing factor to increased levels of divorce and marital unhappiness. Economic stress has also been associated with domestic violence both within straight and same sex attracted relationships (SSA). Research has shown that there is a major difference between straight couples to SSA couples. In SSA couples tasks are allocated on individual abilities and not along gender lines. Traditionally in straight relationships the male looks after the finances while the woman attends to the bulk of domestic chores. The traditional gender roles are changing over time with more of an equal share of the domestic chores, but men still appear to control the majority of the finances.
A couple may enter a cohabitating relationship out of financial necessity. This may lead to a more fragile relationship. Married couples are more likely to join their economic resources together (than cohabitating couples) which can lead to better management of finances. This may also lead to a relationship which is more likely to survive through financial hardship than cohabitating couples.
Christopher Swane - Couples Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand