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Apart from the ready access to high-speed online porn, what makes this recession different from others is that it's centered on real estate and thus on people's homes, which may explain why women are feeling more anxious about it than men are. In a survey released in October by the American Psychological Association (APA), more women than men reported feeling stress about money (83% vs. 78%) and the economy (84% vs. 75%). And women were more likely than men to say they had symptoms of stress--including irritability and weariness. Plus, their stress levels had risen more sharply over the past six months than men's. So it's harder for women to take up their traditional role as household comforter and easier for the wheels to fall off the whole enterprise.
There is some good news. A study that correlated Playboy centerfolds with market conditions found that men like fuller-figured women more in lean times than in boom times. The APA study showed that when stressed, women liked to eat. Bingo!
But aside from stress-eating, is there anything to be done if you'd rather the market didn't take your marriage down with it? A lot of counselors suggest sitting with your spouse and putting your fears on the table. If partner A does not know the full lay of the dire financial land, partner B should map it out while partner A makes a robust attempt not to scream. Then figure out how to address your liquidity issues as a team. All this honesty might even work as foreplay, suggests New Jersey sex therapist Sandra Leiblum, but if not, she recommends putting down the BlackBerry and reminding your spouse of something that's "free, burns calories, releases tension and creates bonds." Bonds that, luckily, can't be traded.