6 Ways Financial Stress Affects Intimacy in Relationships

6 Ways Financial Stress Affects Intimacy in Relationships


Dr. Fred Edwards, MBBS, FRACGP

Did you know that studies found that financial problems are linked to divorce? When you get married and start a family, your financial needs change drastically. There are housing, education, healthcare, household, and even retirement expenses. These financial needs, inherent to a typical family, can often lead to stress. If not managed properly, they can strain relationships and profoundly impact intimacy.  

Increased stress levels may lead to communication breakdowns, emotional distance, and a lack of connection. In this blog, we will discuss further how financial stress can aggravate intimacy and may even cause sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE) among men. 

Emotional Withdrawal 

Having emotional intimacy is important for a relationship to have some depth. If all you do is worry about the future and how you can make ends meet, you won’t have the time and energy to be emotionally available for your partner.  

Stress can create a sense of disconnection between partners. It diminishes the emotional bond necessary for a healthy relationship. 

Lack of Communication 

High stress levels from financial problems can hinder effective communication between partners, especially when people keep their stress to themselves. This lack of communication makes it harder to address financial challenges effectively. 

When communication is lacking, people tend to ignore each other’s needs. You or your partner may need time for emotional and physical intimacy, but the communication gap disregards those needs and creates a bigger gap in the relationship. 

In times of financial stress, it’s essential to always communicate with your partner so both of you can find ways to manage the stress together and maintain a strong connection. 

Physical Intimacy 

Studies show that couples who have sex at least once a week are happier than couples who don’t. But stress changes the game.  

The overall lack of focus, time, and energy due to stress can lead to a decrease in sexual activities between partners. The worry that stems from financial struggles can also manifest physically—leading to fatigue, tension, and overall decreased physical well-being. This results in a lack of interest in sex. 

Impact on Mental and Physical Health 

Studies have proven that financial stress is linked to the decline of positive marital interactions. This can result in marital instability, which in turn results in psychological distress and physical health problems.  

Stress is known to worsen medical conditions, too. If you have obesity, heart problems, diabetes, gut problems, and even depression, stress may heighten the symptoms of these conditions.  

Sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation can also be aggravated by stress. In fact, studies show that the most common causes of ED are psychological factors, which include mental stress. 

Think your ED and PE are stress-related? Talk to one of Men’s Health Clinic’s mental health experts so we can address your bedroom issues. Book a consultation here. 

Increased Conflict 

Stress can amplify conflicts in a relationship. During stressful situations, you and your partner may be more irritable and less patient with each other.  

Financial stress can lead to disagreements over money management and other priorities. This breeds anger toward each other, especially when each other’s romantic needs aren’t met due to a lack of time and energy. 

Negative Coping Mechanisms 

People under financial stress may resort to negative coping mechanisms. These may include substance abuse, emotional distancing, or even fornication. All these coping mechanisms can strain the relationship further. 

How Financial Transparency Among Couples Helps Boost Intimacy 

Absolute trust lies at the heart of a successful relationship, and this includes being transparent about your finances. For one, sharing financial information with your partner means leaving yourself vulnerable—something that you should only do with someone you trust.  

Disclosing your finances can help you keep an open line of communication in your relationship. It encourages you and your partner to discuss your financial concerns maturely. If there are disagreements about handling financial matters, a healthy discussion allows the two of you to find common ground or reach a compromise. This can help improve your emotional connection with your partner. It will also help resolve future conflicts that might put a strain on your relationship.  

Here are some benefits of communicating with your partner during financial challenges: 

You get to share your goals

Financial transparency is not just about doling out figures. It is also about telling your partner about your financial goals. This allows you to align your goals with those of your partner’s. Sharing your financial goals also allows your partner to think of how to contribute towards achieving that goal. This is crucial because partners who work together towards a common goal have a stronger bond. Working together as a team can strengthen your relationship and prepare you for facing future challenges. 

You get to prepare together

When your partner is aware of your financial situation, your partner can support you in times of financial stress or uncertainty. Let’s say that an unexpected expense came up, your partner can offer assistance. Aside from financial support, your partner can lend emotional support to help you get over a financial hurdle. It is also easier to handle stressful situations when you know that your partner has your back. 

You get to celebrate each other

Financial transparency allows your partner to celebrate wins with you. Examples are reaching a savings goal or paying off a debt. You can also celebrate attaining investment targets. The only way for your partner to know about these wins is if your partner has a complete picture of your financial situation. 

You get stronger together

Financial transparency with your partner is a sign that you have a strong relationship. It takes guts to divulge potentially embarrassing information to your partner. When you are ready to bare everything to your partner, it means that you have complete trust with your partner. It means that you know that your partner will accept and support you no matter what. It will help strengthen your bond and allow you to be more intimate with your partner. It also means you are ready to accept your partner’s help in achieving your financial goals. And nothing says sexy like a man who is confident and financially secure.   


Stress in a relationship is inevitable—it’s part of your overall journey as a couple. But staying stressed every day for the long term can damage your relationship and take a toll on your physical, mental, and sexual health.  

If you believe that your intimacy problem stems from stress, the best first step is to have an open dialogue with your better half. You can also explore stress-management activities like mindfulness exercises, regular physical activity, or even couples therapy to address both the financial stress and the sexual dysfunctions you are going through. Should you feel the need, consider a consultation with a professional as well. An expert can provide insights and support tailored to your specific situation.  

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