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Around The Home: Marital stress can ruin a nice family meal

POSTED: May 9, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Long-time married couples often recommend "good communication" as a key factor in maintaining a strong marriage.

Stress and unhappiness can launch a solid attack upon a household when there are secrets or withheld information.

And it can overlap into other areas of our lives and influence our health and mealtimes.

"Individuals who sustain a healthy marriage generally earn more and save more, are more likely to be in good physical and emotional health, and report having happy and satisfying lives," reports the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

Wouldn’t you agree that food, even if it’s your favorite, just doesn’t taste the same when there’s tension in the air during a meal?

Whether you’ve seen it on reality TV or experienced it in person, stress, anger and unhappiness can push mealtimes from quiet to chaos in a matter of seconds.

Conversations about household stuff (groceries, supplies, schedules) usually surfaces on its own during our daily routine.

Unfortunately, there are areas where the lack of communication can have more serious consequences.

Both spouses should be up-to-date on the status of the insurance, budget and other personal financial matters.

Lying or simply not telling your spouse about important matters doesn’t help a family. It can create a larger problem in the long run.

And it can chip away, bit by bit, at love and loyalty.

Couples should work as a team. Maybe a payment was late or things got behind, but honesty and working together can make all the difference.

"Money can be the number one source of frustration in relationships," the resource center reports.

The center also offers these tips:

Set a specific time each week or every other week to discuss finances. Conduct the meeting as if you were business partners. In many ways, you are.

Do your part to keep emotions out of it (take a break from the discussion if it is getting too heated) and make decisions based solely on the facts at hand.

Make all financial decisions together. Put all the cards on the table and agree on which strategy to use. If your first strategy doesn’t pan out, admit it and apply a new strategy.

Be honest and realistic in distinguishing between wants and real needs. Every family can identify areas where money could be saved. The key is making those decisions together so someone’s feelings aren’t hurt.

Refrain from pointing the finger and looking for blame. The relationship suffers when one person attacks the other. Remember a healthy relationship is a "We" thing.

Take a long-view approach to your financial stability. Plan for your retirement years. Implementing long-view strategies may require doing without some short-term comforts. There is peace of mind, however, in knowing that you are adequately planning for your future together

Find more tips and information on:

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290. Her column also appears on



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