A new College of Family and Consumer Sciences research project examines whether couples facing both financial and marital stress can benefit from simultaneously receiving counseling in both areas.
The study, funded by a grant from the UGA Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, will focus on couples who have shared a home for at least six months. One member of the couple must be working, but the combined family income must be at or near the poverty threshold. For a family of four, that figure is about $30,000. For a couple, the figure is $20,000.
“Research has shown that many couples face financial and marital stress at the same time,” said Joseph Goetz, an assistant professor of housing and consumer economics. “However, the standard has been that a couple meets with either a marriage therapist or a financial counselor. Not both. Our hope is that this combined effort will have a greater impact on the couple and give them tools in both areas to improve their lives.”
“Financial well-being is so connected to our sense of success, competence, security, safety and acceptance that financial concerns can lead to problems and anxiety in all of these areas,” said Jerry Gale, an associate professor of child and family development and director of the McPhaul Marriage and Family Therapy program. “Additionally, couple stress can adversely impact our effectiveness at our jobs.”
Other UGA faculty involved in the project include Maria Bermudez and Stephanie Burwell, assistant professors of child and family development.