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New Study Shows Stresses of Economic Downturn on Women's Relationships

Nationwide Caron Treatment Centers Poll Examines Challenges

Women Face in their Romantic Relationships and Offers Tools for Empowerment

PHILADELPHIA, May 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From decreased intimacy to lack of communication with their partner, the economy is having a profound impact on relationships, according to a new study commissioned by Caron Treatment Centers, one of the nation's leading non-profit addiction treatment centers.

The survey, "Caron Breakthrough Poll" was commissioned by Caron Treatment Centers and conducted by Harris Interactive(R). This online omnibus poll was based on a nationwide sample of 1,315 adult women in the U.S. aged eighteen years and over. Based upon survey findings and the institution's vast experience with this issue, a package of free educational materials and tips was developed and can be viewed at

"Women dealing with stress need to know they are not alone and that they can remain committed to their relationship - but they may also need to step back and look at their relationship from a different perspective," said Ann W. Smith, Executive Director of Breakthrough at Caron, a five-and-a-half day intensive wellness program specifically designed for adults impacted by family or relationship dysfunction in childhood or adult life. "Often simple changes can help break patterns that may be weakening a relationship."

Less Intimacy and More Avoidance

Forty-nine percent of women who are currently in a relationship said the economy is having an impact on their relationship. Key findings from the survey among these women include:

  • 31% try not to think about it and hope for the best
  • 24% said their level of intimacy has decreased
  • 16% admit problems, but believe it doesn't make economic sense to split up

Sadly, women who say the economy has impacted their current romantic relationship who have children in the household were about three times as likely as those without children in the household (16% vs. 52% respectively) to say that the stress of the economy is driving them apart.

On the positive side, nearly a third (29 percent) of women who say the economy has impacted their current romantic relationship say they are, in fact, more committed to making their relationship work. In addition, this same percentage (29 percent), report that with less disposable income, they have learned to appreciate time at home together.

Women's Relationship Coping Strategies

When dealing with challenges in a romantic relationship (current or past), more than half (54 percent) of women who have ever been in a romantic relationship admit they do not talk with their partner about what they need and 42 percent don't talk about how they feel. Whatever their approach is to managing relationships, 42 percent feel some level of anger, resentment, shame or guilt.

Among women who have ever been in a romantic relationship, key findings from the survey show their methods of coping with relationship challenges include:

  • 44% try to control or fix the situation
  • 34% get critical of partner/complain about the problem
  • 20% have a hard time saying "no"
  • 16% participate in escapist pursuits (e.g., eating, drinking, shopping, children, working)

"Women often try to control their relationships in hopes of convincing their partner to change, but they don't really have that power," said Smith. "In order to progress in a relationship, women have to take time to think about what they really want and need. Criticism and blame as a communication tactic never works."

Different Demographic, Different Behaviors

How women who have ever been in a romantic relationship manage relationship challenges can change with age, education, marital status and geography. The study found that the likelihood of facing relationship challenges head on increases with education level; 38 percent of those with a college degree or higher do so, compared to 30 percent of those with some college education and 29 percent of those with high school or less education. Interestingly, where a person lives in the country may also affect how they deal with relationship challenges. The survey results showed that 37 percent in the South and 36 percent in the West face relationship challenges head on, compared to 25 percent in the Northeast and 24 percent in the Midwest.

About one third (32 percent) of these women who are single or never married said when faced with challenges in a relationship, they pretend it doesn't bother them as opposed to 22 percent who are married or have been married (21 percent).

Nearly half of women 18-34 admit they get critical of their partner/complain about the problem when faced with challenges in a relationship (48 percent) but these feelings seem to lessen with age; with 35 percent of those 35-44, 33 percent of those 45-54 and 24 percent of those 55+ feeling this way when faced with challenges in current or past relationships.

"Maturity makes it easier to understand that life isn't perfect," says Smith. "As women get older, they may be able to focus more on what they like about their partner and the flaws may start to look less important."

Empowering Women to Act

As part of Caron's ongoing commitment to public education, the organization has developed free tips and tools to help address some of these relationship issues. For more information, visit

About Breakthrough

Breakthrough at Caron is a groundbreaking residential five-and-a-half day program specifically designed for adults impacted by family or relationship dysfunction in childhood or adult life. This program is held on Caron's main campus in Wernersville, PA. Although a referral from a therapist is not required, this program is intended as an addition to outpatient counseling where individuals may address and release emotional pain from years of living in painful family systems. Groups are co-ed and are limited to 10-12 people per group. The program has been designed by Ann Smith, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Pennsylvania, who supervises and oversees clinical work. Experiential techniques, lecture and play are all important components of the program. To learn more about Breakthrough at Caron log onto


Harris Interactive(R) fielded the study on behalf of Caron Treatment Centers from April 13th to April 15th 2009, via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 1,315 U.S. adult women aged 18 and over. Results were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Michelle Dell or Karen Pasternack.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by its science and technology, Harris Interactive assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through its North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Caron Foundation
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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