As an initial matter, it must be noted that changing economic conditions do seem to affect both work roles and family roles in relationships. As noted by Hansen, in general terms, the changed economic conditions have resulted in "more fighting, postponed weddings, and less sex" (2003: np). The most immediate effect is the postponement of weddings. Rather than pursuing traditional roles as husband and wife, because of the large expenses associated with formal weddings, couples are delaying marriage while awaiting better economic times. In addition, young couples are hesitant to have children when they are unable to take care of themselves adequately. The family roles are consequently replaced by a more permanent boyfriend-girlfriend role and the relationships assume a less secure status. There is less romance, less self-esteem, and less sex. In addition to the alteration of family roles, there have also been alterations of traditional work roles. Couples are confronted with periods of unemployment and underemployment. Some people have admitted to removing advanced academic degrees in an effort to find jobs for which they are overqualified. In sum, the recent economic instability has affected both family roles and work roles in negative ways.
In addition, a comparison of the idealism of the 1990s with the current period of economic instability highlights the very real financial pressures that young couples are experiencing.