Sex: Debt counsellors dealing with feuding couples

2008-10-27 00:00

South Africa’s debt counsellors are increasingly referring couples for marriage counselling too, as high debt burdens lead to couples fighting and ultimately divorcing.

Debt counsellors are also being referred for psychological counselling themselves as the stress of seeing couples fight, wears them down.

“We have wives asking that we don’t tell their husbands how badly in debt they are, or vice versa. We have screaming matches in front of counsellors when the wife discovers the husband has three credit cards and then he discovers she has four,” said Andre Snyman, CEO of Debt Counsellors Consumer Assist.

“We had one client … who thought they were rich. It was only when his wife took him for an appointment, that he realised … [that] they were now in very serious debt,” said Snyman.

Marriage counsellor Liz Dooley of the Family Life Centre in Johannesburg said money fights often lead to fights about sex. “Both are about power. Traditionally the man exercises power over the wallet if he is the breadwinner, while a woman exercises power in the bedroom.”

She advises that couples should see a financial crisis as “an opportunity to revisit values”.

Trauma counsellor Japie Coetzee says there is a saying: “When poverty comes in the front door, loves goes out the back”.

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