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Love & Money: Getting Through Unemployment as a Couple

Thursday, 12 Feb 2009 | 11:36 AM ET

It's going to be a very budget Valentine's Day.

According to a new poll on love and the recession by The Daily Beast (pdf), many of us are keepin' it real and inexpensive for this weekend's holiday of amour. No surprise to most, especially the hundreds of thousands who continue to get laid off every month, disproportionately male.


Love & Money: Unemployed & In Love
Carmen Wong Ulrich helps viewers keep their money problems out of their love life, particularly when the male "breadwinner" loses his job, with Kelly Keehn, expert in money psychology; Doug Flynn, CFP; and Andrew Horowitz, CFP.

Last night we met Jonathan, who lost his job back in October and is still looking. His wife, Marjorie, makes a good living as a freelance writer but the family is still behind every month by almost $4,000—a hefty amount that would put nearly anyone in a panic. Though Jonathan and Marjorie have a good relationship when it comes to money and she's a breadwinner too (and always has been), Jonathan's identity remains wrapped up in his ability to earn. In this case, at stake is their home. With nearly a million dollars in equity, their New York City apartment is their only cash-stash. How long can this couple go falling behind by thousands of dollars every 30 days, not to mention missing out on continuing to build any savings or nest egg? That's the question we posed to Jonathan last night.

Ask yourself, and your partner, the hard question of how long are you willing to go under? To Jonathan and to anyone who is falling behind due to lack of income, assess your financial situation every week and ask the hard questions: what's your worst-case scenario? How far

down the road of debt are you willing to go to hold on to your current lifestyle? If you stay, how long will it take to earn it back? These are tough questions, but if you're blessed with a loving partner and a loving relationship, all the better to tackle it as a team.