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Women Marching To Work During Recession - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Women Marching To Work During Recession

March 27, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

As the recession lengthens into the longest financial drought since World War II, the number of women in the workplace is now bypassing the number of employed men. During the current recession, 82% of job losses have affected men leaving the breadwinning to millions of American women.

As women bear more of the responsibility in breadwinning, dramatic shifts in gender roles and power may occur in your relationship.

Money is Power: Women are going to have more of a say in the marriage. As the saying goes, “he who makes the gold holds the power.” Now it may be “she who makes the gold.” Males have traditionally been trained to lead and to provide while many women focused on the home fires. Decision-making may change as women also hold the reins of power.

Enhanced Independence: Leadership can be intoxicating and earning a paycheck outside of the home is inevitably empowering. This recession may redefine how women think about themselves. Such independence, self-confidence and a sense of effectiveness influence the marital dialogue.

This sociological trend has a tremendous effect on marriages. As the woman heads to work and the man heads back home, the balance of power will be disrupted.

At this point, many couples either pull together or pull apart. Successful couples “put their heads down” and work tirelessly as a team to solve the financial problem. She pulls a paycheck while he runs the carpool. However, in other couples, male distractibility may increase as he hunts for new employment. Some men, discouraged and negative, may retreat to the couch to distract themselves with the latest video game. Male inattentiveness can cause tremendous discord at home, especially if the financial stress is increasing and the wife is working non-stop to help the family financially.

There are substantial differences between how men and women react to job loss and the resulting financial hardship.

Individual personality differences play a huge part in how either gender deals with sustained adversity. However, the trauma of financial stress plays out differently with both genders. Men turn to action and distraction while women generally ruminate and obsess. Their opposing coping skills trigger negativity and the couple can quickly be at cross-purposes.

As the financial strain continues, the chronic stress takes a toll on the physical and psychological immunity of both genders because of the perpetual uncertainty of the economy. Over time, we are increasingly mentally and emotionally exhausted. We do know now that the very nerve cells of the brain and the brain circuitry can be damaged by chronic stress.

Marital discord may occur when a woman is forced by economic circumstances to work outside of the home. Enormous resentment and even trauma can result. Many women prefer the traditional role of being a wife and mother and are not interested in generating an independent income. Returning to full time work can be a traumatic event, especially when there are young children at home.

However, in today’s economy, millions of women simply do not have the choices they once did. Seventy percent of women with kids work for pay and that number is growing as the male job layoffs continue. This is a time to “buck up” and take a hit for the family team. Women over the millennia have made the difference between surviving and perishing. Modern times now offer the same opportunity to prove our mettle as a gender.

There are key coping skills couples should use to deal with negative financial issues:

Write down the problem that you are facing. Define the triggers that cause you the most worry and conflict. Once you have defined your conflict triggers, work as a couple to do the following:

  • Assess the Threat: Assess how much danger you face and be realistic about each level of threat. Again, make sure you remain realistic.
  • Match Your Emotions to the Situation: Make your emotional responses ‘fit’ the real degree of threat. Do not overreact and pull each other into a downward, negative spiral.
  • Break It Down: Break down the steps to remedying the problem. Make them simple and specific.
  • Likely Outcomes: Prepare effectively for the most likely consequences of the problem.
  • Remain Positive: Lower your anxiety by focusing on positive solutions and outcomes. Keep your focus and remain accurate.

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