2 Tips To Communicate More Effectively With Your Unemployed Spouse

By Dr. John L. Manni

Communication can make or break a relationship at home or at work.  Let’s view communication from the perspective of the sender and receiver.  How often as a sender of a message have you had to say: “That isn’t what I meant.”  Sometimes the message we try to send does not clearly express what we are trying to say. Examining what psychologists refer to as “I messages” versus “you messages” can help improve your communication skills.

I first encountered the phrase “I message” in Thomas Gordon’s book Parent Effectiveness Training (1970).  While he initially proposed the concept as a communication tool for parents, it quickly became apparent that the use of “I messages” could be generalized to many settings.

An example should prove useful. A wife who is worried about her unemployed husband’s wellbeing tries to check on him by stating: “You look defeated.”  Her husband, the receiver of the message, immediately begins to defend himself.  He responds angrily because he misinterprets her message.  He feels she thinks that he has given up and is not working hard enough to get a job.  He responds sarcastically, “I’m doing just great.  I’m looking as hard as I can.” Remember, the wife is worried about her husband’s wellbeing, not how hard he is working at getting a job. Yet the message she sends arouses defensiveness. From the perspective of communication theory, her mistake was to start her message with “you.” Another approach would be to start with an “I message.”  “I’m worried because looking for a job has to be frustrating and stressful.  I wish there was something I could do to help.”  Response by husband: “It is stressful, but your offer to help is really appreciated.”

“You statements” block effective communication because they often generate defensiveness, resistance or anger in the receiver.  Let’s look at some other examples:

“You’ll get another job if you only keep trying.”  Receiver gets defensive. “You think I’m not looking as hard as I should.

“You’ll feel better tomorrow.” Receiver gets resistant.  “No I won’t. Nothing will have changed. “

The above attempts to offer advice or support are well intentioned, but they serve to only block effective communication.

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Money Issues In Your Relationship? There’s An App For That…Really.

By Aiyana Ma’at

An app for this. An app for that. It seems like these days there’s an app for just about anything. I thought I’d seen it all until I discovered an app that claims  it can help you look your money habits squarely in the eye, discover what you really believe about money and see how they impact the relationships in your life. Really? Really.

According to HabitChanger founded by Larry Tobin & Carey White their app, Money & Relationships, can really help you to get to the root cause of your money issues within your relationship and help you and your partner understand yourselves and the way you impact each other more fully. Does it really work? Who can really say unless they’ve tried it for themselves? Ayize and I just might try it for ourselves. 😉 If we do, we’ll definitely report back to you our results. In the meantime, here’s a little more about it. If you try it, let us know how it goes for you and your boo!

Here’s What You Get When You Start HabitChanger’s 42 Day Program Plan:

~A 42 day program with a new challenge every day that helps you specifically address the underlying habits that are driving your behavior.


~The daily challenges, delivered through email, make you aware of your habits and provide you with the tools to create new and healthier habits.


~The challenges provide support, ideas, and inspiration that’s positive, honest, and practical.


~At the completion of the 42 days, you will have retrained yourself in the way you react, allowing you to overcome old behavioral patterns.

“In any relationship, money can be a sensitive topic. Your own values and habits around money directly affect your partner, loved one, or even a roommate. Money & Relationships is a 42+ day program designed to help you look at your current money beliefs and habits, and how they impact the relationships in your life. We address the root of the behavior that keeps creating money issues in your relationships and help you build new fundamental skills and habits that will inspire trust and intimacy.”

Essential Ingredients To Strengthening Your Family In Tough Economic Times

By Starla Muhammad

Despite challenges facing many Black couples and families during the economic downturn, now is the time to work on strengthening the ties that bind. The foundation of the Black community has always been family regardless of the pitfalls of high unemployment, financial strain and interpersonal conflicts. Cash strapped times can even affect physical and mental health. Instances of child abuse and domestic abuse increased during the recession noted several counseling and health websites.

Spiritual renewal and rejuvenation is a key component to facing and overcoming the obstacles many families are facing today say marriage and family advocates.

“There are several ways that we’ve found that we’ve been able to help couples as it pertains not to just their financial well-being but just the well-being of their families.  One of those ways is strengthening your spiritual foundation,” said Ayize Ma’at who co-founded blackloveandmarriage.com along with his wife Aiyana.  The couple said maintaining a spiritual connection in tough times is like having an anchor.

Whether it means going to a religious or spiritual service, engaging in devotion or evening prayer as a couple and as a family, that connection can help weather the difficult storms, they said.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam teaches that a strong home and strong family produces a strong community.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says to us that the solution to our problems is a divine solution. Therefore the problem and the solution in terms of what is the biggest challenge, it’s a spiritual challenge,” said Student Minister Robert Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 45 in Houston, Texas.

The second challenge is one of communication or lack thereof, added Mr. Muhammad, who has been married 31 years, has four sons and serves as the Southwest Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam.

“In order for a family to communicate, survive and prosper, they must be able to communicate, particularly in this information age. Because of technology we are actually less connected in a human kind of way than we were when we didn’t have the technology,” said Mr. Muhammad.

“Texting is so impersonal and everyone having their individual iPod, iPad, individual television, individual telephone, we have a tendency even within our own household not to sit down at the dinner table and discuss the day’s events or to plan tomorrow’s events,” he added.

Mr. Muhammad described communication as a “loop,” meaning there is call and response. He added that the Supreme Wisdom Lessons of the Nation of Islam is a perfect example of this.

“There are questions and those questions are followed by answers. Questions by Master Fard Muhammad, answers by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. So we should listen, become great listeners as well as people who can express our thoughts,” he added.

Financial stress and strain has led to a breakdown of marriage and family. Money disputes are one of the leading causes of divorce.

Unemployment rates for Blacks in America are still bleak, adding further stress for men and women wanting and needing to support their families. The overall unemployment rate in May was 8.2 percent but for Blacks it was 13.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Financial planners said families must become more disciplined in handling what little they have in terms of finances and stop making unnecessary purchases. Communicating often and effectively about a budget and sticking to it are key, add family and marriage experts.

Identifying what expenses can and should be readjusted or cut is something couples and families must discuss, they point out.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a life and relationship coach and regularly contributes to blackandmarriedwithkids.com, an online marriage and family support site offering suggestions and solution, oriented advice.

“Planning ahead with schedules and bills will ultimately avoid stress in those areas altogether. We, along with our spouse can budget and put a plan into place that will allow us more time in the areas we have previously neglected,” wrote Ms. Cunningham-Sumter in her March 2012 article, “Stress Less, Love More”.

Dr. Alonzo Peters is founder of mochamoney.com, a personal finance and money management website that provides tips on helping Blacks reach financial independence. It is not how much you make, but how much you save that matters, Dr. Peters wrote. Anyone can build wealth regardless of the size of their salary, he added.  The median wealth for Blacks in the U.S. is $4,995 versus $110,729 for Whites according to 2010 Census figures. The widening disparities are blamed on the severe economic downturn. Yet, even with these grim figures, the capacity to save even a little something is attainable.

If a single parent saves $50 per month, at the end of one year, he or she has accumulated $600 and after five years, $3,000. With a budget, individuals and families can track where their money goes and with discipline, can take necessary measures to save or invest.

In his 1965 book, “Message To The Blackman In America,” the Honorable Elijah Muhammad laid out a practical financial blueprint that is just as relevant then as it is today.  “The first step the so-called Negro wage-earners should take is to spend only when necessary and according to their income. They should save as much of their salaries as possible – weekly, biweekly or monthly. We as wage earners should always plan to save something from whatever we are paid. Do not become extravagant spenders like the rich, who own the country and everything in it. It is sheer ignorance for us to try to compete in luxury with the owners,” Mr. Muhammad writes.

Despite hardships, spending time together as a family is a must. “We always encourage couples to have date night,” said Mrs. Ma’at. “We tell people all the time whether it’s weekly, monthly, you have to have date night but maybe you need to think about the date night looking differently, because we can’t always go out, spend money and have dinner and wine and dine,” she said.  Families must be creative in cutting back, said Mrs. Ma’at. “We’ve got to sit on the floor. Maybe we’re going to have PB and J, I don’t know what you’re going to have but we gonna do what we gotta do! Have some spaghetti and we’re going to sit on the floor and put a little picnic blanket out and we’re going to have date night in the house with a dollar movie maybe from the Red Box instead of going to the movies that these days can cost you 50 bucks,” said Mrs. Ma’at.

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It’s Not About How Much You Make…It’s About How You Manage What You Make

By Michelle Singletary

Looking at former NFL star Warren Sapp’s bankruptcy filing, it’s hard not to focus on the Florida mansion he owns (18,000 square feet, according to property records) or the number of pricey athletic shoes he’s purchased (240 pairs, many still in the box unworn).

Sapp lists assets of nearly $6.5 million and liabilities of $6.7 million. That makes him broke.

As I combed through Sapp’s 59-page Chapter 7 filing, there was no question that he’s not a good money manager. He’s become yet another example of highly paid athletes and entertainers who go bust after earning more money than most people will ever see in their lifetimes. Sapp, who now earns money as a sports broadcaster for the NFL Network, listed an average salary of nearly $116,000 — a month.

I don’t have to tell you the lesson of this case. You already know it. Yet, I’ll say it anyway. You can go broke making millions if you live above your means.

But there’s another cautionary tale: You can also go broke trying to become rich — or richer — by investing in risky ventures you know little or nothing about. I call it the entrepreneur syndrome. It’s a disease in which Americans believe they aren’t truly successful unless they own a business of some kind.

I used to cover the bankruptcy courts in Maryland, and I saw case after case of people failing financially because of bad business deals. In 1991, I broke the story that former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas had filed for bankruptcy protection. The Hall of Fame player’s bankruptcy was largely due to a bad business investment. Unitas and partners had nearly $4 million in defaulted loans stemming from the purchase of a circuit board manufacturing company. Unitas had personally guaranteed the loans.

Sapp’s financial downfall was real estate. He told The Tampa Bay Times that he wanted to build low-income housing in Florida. What’s interesting about Sapp’s filing is he wouldn’t be broke if not for his business debt. He has considerable retirement money that can’t be touched by creditors.

Reportedly, Sapp grossed at least $60 million playing football. Even allowing for taxes, agent commissions and various expenses, he wouldn’t have had to invest a penny or earn any more money to be financially set for life.

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God Don’t Like Rich People

By Skye Thomas

I will never forget the day that my daughter’s sixth grade friend told me that. We had been discussing someone who had recently lost a fortune and had become very bitter as a result. She suddenly piped up with that all knowing scowl that only a twelve year old girl can truly master while proclaiming, “God don’t like rich people!” She said it as if it was a mortal sin worthy of an eternity in hell. She immediately made a snap decision from that point forward to dislike the person we’d been talking about. I’ve met her dad. He’s a nice enough guy and from what I can tell, he agrees with his daughter. They are very regular attendees at their church. I don’t know what church they go to, but all I could think to myself at the time was, “Who in the world is teaching her that!?”

For my daughter’s sake, I bit my tongue. I wanted so badly to quiz her friend and find out the roots of that belief system. How does one logically come to that conclusion? I was under the impression that God was known to shower you with riches if he liked you. Solomon was extremely rich and God liked him. I thought that God’s opinion of us had more to do with our character, not our bank account. I could even see that how you amassed your fortune could be important in God’s viewpoint. I think about Job and how he was tested to see if money was the reason for his devotion to God. Upon passing the test, didn’t God dump piles of money back into his lap again? And what about the father in the prodigal son story? He had money and God liked him.

Just as ridiculous to me are the people who spin it the other way around, as if God don’t like poor people. They act like they’re closer to God because they have money. Funny thing money, it can buy a lot of things, but I was under the impression that God wasn’t for sale. Rumor has it that some churches and individual clergy can be bought, but not God Himself. Nowhere in the bible did I ever read that you could bypass the rules and just pay an entrance fee to get into heaven’s gates.

I thought that money was a tool sometimes used for testing us. Do we remain spiritual while humbled and poor or do we become bitter and turn our back on God? Do we remain spiritual while spoiled and rich or do we become self righteous and turn our back on God? And what about the way we treat each other? Does the amount of money we have dictate how much love we are to receive from each other? “Congratulations on that job promotion you worked so hard for, buddy! But hey, you’re too rich now, so me and God aren’t going to hang out with you anymore.”

What a silly concept that money would have anything to do with one’s spiritual self-worth. I’m sorry for those children who have been raised to believe that the amount of money they do or do not have dictates whether or not God will like them. Personally, I’ve raised my kids on the idea that you behave yourself as best you can, and I do mean ‘best.’ Heed your spiritual calling. Love one another. Everything else will fall into place as it’s meant to be. Oh, and be thankful for what you have. God don’t like people with bad manners.

Skye Thomas began writing books and articles with an everyday practical approach to life in 1999 after twenty years of studying spirituality, metaphysics, astrology, personal growth, motivation, and parenting. After years of high heels and business clothes, she is currently enjoying working from home in her pajamas. Go towww.TomorrowsEdge.net to read more of her articles and to get a free preview of one of her books. 

Letters to My Daughter – Part 4: Money

By Neysa Ellery Taylor

Dear Asyen and Maya,

You both know that this is an arena where Dad and I struggle.  So this is going to be really short….

1.  Follow this formula:
10% Tithe
20% save
25% living expenses (rent)
45% the rest of life goes here

2.  Don’t charge stuff.  Instead save up for it and then pay cash.  The stress isn’t worth the instant gratification you get when you charge something.

3.  Money isn’t everything but money does make some things much easier.

3.  Honestly, don’t have a big wedding.  Have a small wedding and a great honeymoon.  Save the rest of the money.  Buy a duplex.  Live in 1 half and rent out the other.  In 3-5 years take the money you saved and buy a single family home.  Keep the duplex as rental property.  Ta-da! You just built generational wealth.  Then for you 10 year anniversary have the wedding of your dreams.  Trust me on this one!

4.  Never be afraid to take a step back in order to take a leap forward.

5. Finally, if you have questions beyond this ask Auntie Keri.  Believe me.  She has the answers!

Love you so much that I want you to do better than me on this one,

Neysa Ellery Taylor is an integral part of the writing team here at Blackloveandmarriage.com. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Chris, and their 4 children – Asyen, Maya, Preston, and Patrick. An Emmy-Award winning journalist, she hopes to share her passion for marriage and God through her writing. You can read more of her work atMyriadthatisme.blogspot.com

Are You Financially Compatible?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

“Money is one of the biggest power struggles in a relationship,” asserts Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of Financial Infidelity. That’s why experts say it’s important for daters to pay attention to their financial compatibility. “Financial issues are the biggest deal-breakers in a relationship. It is important to understand your differences so you can integrate them to create harmony.”

Do opposites attract?
Each of us falls into one of two categories: spenders and savers. And the old rule about opposites attracting holds true with money, too. “I know that’s true with nearly every client I have, and it’s true of my wife and me,” says New Orleans-based financial planner Jude Boudreaux, who founded Upperline Financial Planning. “It’s challenging at times, but I think we’ve both learned from each other and reached a happier middle ground because of [it].” Adds Weil: “Eventually, couples neutralize each other if they learn how to communicate effectively about finances. You must respect each other’s different spending styles. However, some attitudes are deal-breakers … signs of lifestyles and beliefs that go against your own values.”

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Searching For Solutions To Fight Black Male Unemployment

By Gerald Mitchell

Yesterday’s employment report has largely been seen as positive news, and for good reason. Two-hundred twenty-seven thousand new jobs were created in February, and the previous month’s employment figures were also revised upwards, making the gains even more impressive than previously thought. Despite this fact, headline unemployment rate number remained unchanged at 8.3 percent. How could this be?

It’s because the participation rate, which measures the percentage of working-age individuals who are employed or unemployed and looking for a job, actually increased in February, after falling in January. That is to say, that while there are more people finding jobs, there are also more looking for jobs than before. This can also be seen as a positive indicator, as it means that people have more hope that jobs are available than they did previously.

Unfortunately, black unemployment actually increased from 13.6 percent to 14.1 percent. This is distressing, for obvious reasons, and to see the positive momentum that occurred last month come to a halt, while the rest of the economy continued to tread water at worst, speaks to the fragile state of the recovery in the black community.

That being said, part of the rise in the black unemployment rate, as with the broader economy, is due to an increase in the participation rate in the black community. In fact, when analyzing another key indicator, the employment-population ratio, the percentage of working age people who were working was essentially flat.

This context is not meant to excuse the fact that black communities still experience extremely high levels of unemployment, especially in specifically distressed areas of the country, nor that the gap between black unemployment and the rest of the country is not closing fast enough.

In fact, there remain some ominous signs when looking beneath the headline numbers. Most alarmingly, unemployment increased substantially for black males in February to 14.3 percent, up from 12.7 percent in January — this despite the fact that the participation rate and employment-population ratio both decreased.

That is to say, the black male unemployment is climbing, even as the percentage of working-age black males who are actively looking for work is falling. That should raise a lot of eyebrows in our communities, as well as in Washington.

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Relationships Need “Recession Proofing” Too!

By Todd Bavol

A spell of unemployment, or even just a cut in salary for one or both partners, can put the most unbearable strain on a relationship. In an attempt to come to terms with all the feelings associated with being laid off, the series of disappointments which comes with the subsequent job search and the financial constraint that inevitably follows, it becomes the easiest thing in the world to lash out at your nearest and dearest. Even the simple logistics of being ‘under one another’s feet’ all day can lead to even the closest of couples and families driving one another crazy.

So, what can a couple do to make sure that they get through such fearful and uncertain times?

Don’t play the blame game

This works both ways – neither blame your partner nor yourself. Unemployment or financial insecurity has not come about through the deliberate choice of an irresponsible partner, it has arisen as a consequence of world events. If you ever feel tempted to play the blame game, just stop and think whether either of you would have wished for this situation and then resist the temptation to strike out with hurtful words. At the end of the day, you both still want the same things, but blame will only pull you apart.

Support one another

They say that ‘no man is an island’, and in fact, no man wants to be. Having somebody to believe in you, and whom you believe in, is a basic human need and when times get tough a united front becomes all the more important. Support one another – it is you two against the world.


Men in particular are renowned for not talking about their feelings, but at times like this it becomes all the more important to let your partner in and to ask for help. It is so easy to behave distantly when your mind and your heart are full of fear, but unfortunately distance engenders mistrust. Your partner might understand rationally what is causing the new behavior, but when faced with it day in and day out, it becomes all too easy to fill in a different interpretation of events. Keep talking!

Be patient

However hard it might be to see your partner apparently doing nothing more than sit around watching daytime TV and failing to pitch in with the household chores, try to be patient. The feelings associated with losing a job are akin to those of bereavement. Try to be patient and have trust in the fact that when he or she has worked through whatever it is that they need to work through, they will find the strength and courage to get back out there.

Give hugs

If either of you can feel yourself getting stressed or irritable, stop and reach out for a hug. The close physical contact and comfort of a hug helps to make us feel safe and secure and not only does it reduce the feelings of stress, but it also reminds us of what is really important in life.

Switch off from your job search

When you have done what you can for the day, switch off the computer, tidy away your resume and that pile of business cards that you have been wading through and try to relax and spend some quality time with your partner. Spending every waking minute of the day on your job search will not only leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted and stressed, but will leave your partner feeling pushed out too.

Change your lifestyle/spending habits

Just because there is less money coming into the household does not mean to say that you cannot still enjoy yourselves. They say that the best things in life are free, and this is a good opportunity to reunite yourself with the simple pleasures in life. Cuddling in front of the television, playing a board game, a walk along the beach or through the countryside or park all cost nothing. A simple picnic beside a river can be one of the most romantic activities a couple can enjoy and a night (or an afternoon) of exquisite passion between the sheets will not only bring you closer together but will make you feel like a caveman (or woman), ready to go out there and take on the mammoths of the job market the next day.

Treat yourselves occasionally

Money might be tight, but if possible, try to put a little aside for an occasional treat. A nice meal out somewhere, or even a takeaway meal at home in a candlelit room can work wonders to lift your spirits and give you a feeling of togetherness.

Never forget that when the recession has passed (which it will) and life is looking rosier (which it will), the last thing you want is to be looking back and realizing that you have lost the most important thing of all – your relationship. Be kind to each other!

I am committed to providing people quick access to job search and career information. Over 20 years of experience in the HR and Career Coaching field has given me a vast amount of information and resources to share with you.  You can visit me at http://www.integritycareertransitions.com/blog

It’s Time To Man Up & Get My Money Right

By Ilex Bien-Aime

I was out with some friends a few years ago when a girl said that she wouldn’t date a man unless she saw his credit score. At the time that statement made me mad but my thoughts have since changed on that subject. For so long I didn’t understand the importance of getting my finances in order, I thought that if you had enough cash, you could buy whatever you wanted and though that maybe true to a certain extent, having good credit is just as important as having a lot of cash. Unfortunately, too many people are uneducated when it comes to financial literacy. We become too focused on keeping up with the Joneses, amassing huge amounts of debt that we spend years trying to correct.

God knows that I could smack myself for my stupid financial decisions in my teens and early adult years. My family never taught me about saving my money and as I look back, I seriously cannot remember a single conversation about credit. When I think of it, many of them were living check to check and maybe I thought that if I went to college, I would not suffer that same fate. I wish somebody would have said, “Ilex, don’t apply for that Macy’s card….don’t apply for that Burdines card…. don’t get all of those credit cards when you don’t know how you are going to pay for them”. Someone should have grabbed me by the back of my shirt when companies were trying to entice me with free t-shirts and pizzas on my college campus.

I remember thinking to myself that I would one day make enough money that bad credit wouldn’t be a problem -boy was I wrong. Being irresponsible with my credit has caused me a great deal of heartache throughout the years. A few years ago I applied for a job with the U.S. Marshalls Department and I was turned down because my credit was so horrible. Literally, I lost a dream job because of credit. I didn’t even know that it was possible to not be hired because of my finances. Besides not getting jobs, I realized that getting loans had become close to impossible. When trying to buy a car, I found someone to give me a loan but the interest rate was so high that it seemed as if I were paying a mortgage. This situation makes matters worse because instead of climbing out of debt, you end up sinking further into it.

Yesterday was another kick in the gut for me because I was turned down for a company American Express card. Honestly, I am so embarrassed by that because even with a corporation backing me, lenders still see me as a threat.I’ve done a much better job with my credit in the past few years but I am still playing catch up. I am still paying back money for cards that I opened up in college and instead of having extra money that I could be saving, I am dealing with my past stupidity. I am trying not to beat myself up about this but I am no longer a single man. My wife has to take this journey with me and I can’t help but to feel bad that she has to suffer because of me.

There are too many people like me in the US. We put too much stock in trying to buy material things. We want to look like everyone else or better than everyone else but we can’t afford it. It’s not until something important comes along that we see how stupid we have been. My wife had a house before we met but I am imagining in horror what a lender would have said if we were going to buy our first house together. Because of my bad credit, the interest rate would probably be something ridiculous. I can’t change yesterday. They say that hindsight is biased for a reason. Clearly, if I knew then what I know now I would have done things differently. All I can do now is correct the wrong that I have done and be an example for others of what not to do financially. I want to get my finances in order so when my kids are older, I can show them a positive example and I can help them in their life pursuits. As a man and a husband I want to support my wife and not leave things on her shoulders. At the end of the day I am no longer a boy and now, it is time to man up!


Ilex Bien-Aime is an integral part of the BlackLoveAndMarriage.com team. He lives in Washington, DC with his lovely wife. He writes as a man who has seen women mistreat themselves and who have allowed themselves to be mistreated. He writes as a man who wants to give his future daughters a guideline on how to deal with men. Lastly he writes what he writes because his female friends are always asking his opinion about these situations. Connect with Ilex at Iamsayingit.blogspot.com or via email atilexbienaime@gmail.com.