It’s time for another book review. In Good Times and Bad: Strengthening Your Relationship When the Going Gets Tough and the Money Gets Tight is from M. Gary Neuman and Melisa Neuman. This is an interesting one, especially in light of the economic times we live in. Gary Neuman has been on Oprah a few times and discussed this topic earlier this year.

Relationship advice for couples having problems with finances

Relationship advice for couples having problems with finances

Like a lot of my other book reviews, I’m going to present a review of some of the chapters so you can see if this book would be a good fit for you in your situation.

Chapter 1: Our personal story

The Neumans open up with their personal stories and share the growth and learning.  They’ve received from their struggles.  They had to deal with both financial and family health struggles.  Something I think some readers can identify with is their story of being upside down on a mortgage while balancing a family, raising two small kids, and having little savings.

They also shared a serious health crisis with one of their children. I could relate to this as my sister had to be hospitalized many times.  When she was a small child, due to epilepsy.  What I found interesting were the two questions posed in the first chapter, how do we come through an experience of difficult he impact or with a sense of growth?  What makes one couple stronger while other families deteriorate and failed?

I think this first chapter gives readers an idea if this book is for them.  It’s a great personal introduction and sets up how the Neumans’ can cover this topic.

Chapter 2: The decision to fight for your relationship

This chapter, shared many stories from different families struggling in their relationship.  Gary shared how he had helped a couple on the Oprah Winfrey show, with their marriage. Amy and Timothy were in a very difficult situation. Timothy had lost his job and then went into a deep depression.  He was isolating himself and Amy eventually left him and lived with her mother for a bit.

Gary spoke with Amy about her battle with cancer, and she had made the comment that that was easier than this problem her family was facing. besides the couple’s own struggles, Amy’s family added more tension.  Her mother was generously helping Amy out by watching the baby. Timothy made changes in his behavior and along with Amy, they decided to fight for their marriage.

Using the examples, the Neumans pointed out some teachable threads. They emphasize the fighting spirit, give yourself permission to have fun, and find something constructive.  They also shared a little history behind the Nobel Prize story.

Chapters 3: The moment to save (or lose) relationship

From reading this chapter, I gathered that a lack of clear and honest communication can be a huge problem. for one reason or another instead of tackling of the problem as a couple.  Sometimes we want to handle it ourselves. Some of the stories here present different ways that couples decided to communicate and work on their marriage.

Chapter 4: What money really means to you and your partner

This chapter starts off the second part of the book, transform your relationship. For many people, a fight about money isn’t really about the money. As Dave Ramsey likes the point out how personal finance is 80% personal. While we were growing up we were learning what money is or is it from our family, whether right or wrong.

There’s an exercise on page 41 that can quickly let you and your spouse see, what money represents to you.

as with the other chapters, the Neumans gives case study after case study of couples working through their financial and their family problems. Many people have a fear of money and have been paralyzed, allowing their relationship to deteriorate in their finances to dwindle.

Chapter 5: What you learned about money

This chapter gets a little bit deeper about the lessons we learn concerning money.  It tackles topics like:

  • the difference is between handling money
  • who’s responsible for managing and making the money you sentence,
  • how should people discuss money
  • What money means to you

The issue of keeping up with the Joneses is discussed here. I think it’s quite easy to be influenced by your friends and neighbors ever so slightly.  But sometimes you don’t even notice.  I also found it interesting that the Neumans looked at, briefly, the American culture of consumption.

My Take

I really enjoyed this book, and while I would’ve preferred more financial topics discussed, I understand that that wasn’t the authors intention in writing the book. I think this is a helpful book specifically for families trying to keep themselves together, while going through hard economic times. I think the biggest message here is the advice:

Attack the problem, not each other.

I enjoyed the exercises and case studies that the book presented and it definitely made for a good conversation topic with my husband this weekend.

If you are single college student,  you should probably check out the book in the library and just scan and review part two with the book.  It does a pretty good job of covering situations that many people find themselves in when they’re dealing with money in a relationship.

Your Take

Do you think that this economy has added more stress to your marriage? What have you been doing to stay on track with your family and your finances? When you finish reading the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Laura Martinez

Laura Martinez