To accomplish a financial policy is an event with which every young couple has to deal. In addition to which problems can occur that cannot be resolved in everyday customs and habits. Regarding the latter if that is the meaning of one or both of the married couple, in that case you can say that there is a financial crisis.
Via an inquiry conducted with 93 young married couples who were representative of all the young married couples in the Netherlands municipal borough of Ede (chapter 2), it was to investigate which of the young couples had experienced a financial crisis. From these young married couples it appeared that a total of 32 were experiencing a financial crisis.
Using Reuben Hill's work as a model there are at least three different variables at work to determine whether a given event becomes a crisis for any given family (chapter 1):
1. the hardships of the situation or event itself,
2. the resources of the family;
3. the definition the family makes of the event.
The hardships of the situation were widely varied for different young married couples (chapter 3). Hardships identified were as follows:
- a low salary rate;
- a marriage of necessity;
- an unplanned pregnancy during the first year of marriage;
- not saved sufficient money or very little before the marriage;
- usage of hire-purchase or personal loan.
Apart from the inquiry of the financial resources we spent a lot of time on systematic study of the more basic resources. Family integration is generally seen as such a basic resource. Family integration is the stability of a family in practising of its functions and the security which it obtains from it. In this investigation it was tried to discern in what degree the family integration determines the invulnerableness of young married couples for financial tension. Indeed it proved that a married couple that was notably less integrated, was relatively often in financial difficulties.
An important addition to the classification of family integration was achieved through the introduction of adaptability as resource. The degree of adaptability indicates in which form a couple with financial problems react and which solution could be used to ward off a financial crisis.
Another important resource seemed to be the character of family relationships. A strong personal relationship which develops for the need and wishes of the individual and which observes the need of the other and satisfies it, seldom results in a financial crisis. Because a strong personal relationship on both sides is satisfactory in tune, it influences the young people in times of tension so much so that there is not much reason to leave each other or not to perform their allotted duties.
Also when important decisions have to be made regarding the family budget by the married couple, this can be discussed together on a more or less equal footing (democratic decision). In that case the young couple possessed an important resource to keep financial difficulties at bay.
More especially where financial resources were involved, we took for example the manner in which they saved during their marriage and the experience they gained from solving previous financial problems.
A special emphasis is given to financial difficulties and resources based on 'self and the 'frame of reference' of married couples as individuals and as a group. Since the 'frame of reference' and 'self' for every individual and for every group can vary, also it explains the varied meaning and reactions to the financial difficulties and resources. The financial possibilities at the beginning of a marriage are based on expectations and necessities, which form the frame where the meaning is decided which influences the value of financial possibilities, which will be met in another fase of married life. When the financial possibilities of a married couple decrease through the years it is apparent that this change gives problems. In fact it strongly increases susceptibility of a financial crisis. Also whenever a husband's material expectations and necessities, which are based on his financial possibilities before his marriage, must change to a less affluent financial position during his marriage, the result is very often a financial crisis.
Usually when investigating the symptom of a family crisis attention is paid to subjective aspects in family life, but often these are exclusively connected with objective family characteristics. Reuben Hill pointed out that when investigating a family during a crisis, where there is only room for hardships and for resources, should be corrected and added to the concept 'definition of the situation'. In this manner a too determinist approach is broken through.
A sociologist must constantly involve his ideas and theories with society. The object which has to be studied in social reality must determine which investigating technique will be applied. Especially the case-study analysis of young married couples, whose behaviour was noticeably unpredictable, produced new aspects for the definition of the financial situation such as insecurity about the future and the attitudes regarding hire-purchase. These were aspects which did not frequently occur in the couples investigated. Because of the flexibility of qualitative analysis, they could be traced and could make an important contribution to a better understanding of the social reality of a crisis-prone family.
We have mainly used the statistical method, where we could use existing theories (chapter 4). From these theories concrete predictions could be derived which could be tested from the empirical data collected.
Where the emphasis was put on exploring, the case-study method gave us more possibilities (chapter 5).
In chapter 6 where these methods of investigating were compared, it was apparent that both methods made an important contribution to formulating the hypotheses. A similar combined approach could open new perspectives, certainly by investigating the origin of a family crisis, where as well as noticeable objective resources and subjective resources ('definition of the situation') play an important role. Besides which an inquiry of the validity can be incorporated automatically, where use can be made of adding to the testing of the validity in a specially directed preliminary inquiry.
To conclude just one remark about the use of profiles, which were drawn to represent a summary of the previous history, the existence and the outcome of the process in which young married couples try to organize their financial affairs. This similar approach showed its value by studying the processes of family crisis, noting of course the time saved and the possibility to get the cases comparable.