Marriages provide the foundation for individuals to live positive and fulfilling lives. From a marriage and family counseling perspective, my interest is in helping couples strengthen their relationship so that their marriage supports their growth as individuals, living the best life possible, while enhancing their life together. The current climate of financial distress threatens marriages needlessly; we can actually use it as an opportunity to strengthen all our relationships. Although we are in Wall Street crises, the solutions will come from the Main Streets of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and all the other small communities in which we live out our lives with our children, parents, and friends.

Carlsbad, California, a city known for attracting families, is feeling the economic strain just as is the rest of the country. Anchor industries such as Callaway Golf Company and TaylorMade, two of golf’s most influential companies are downsizing and office space stands alarmingly empty throughout Carlsbad, San Marcos, Vista, and Oceanside. The once astronomical housing costs have diminished to an almost reasonable amount although it still may cost $650,000 for a 1700 square foot house if it’s in the right place such as near the Batiquitos Lagoon. Many of our neighbors have lost equity and may be facing foreclosure. Couples seek marriage counseling more often for issues concerning their adjustment to new lifestyles. Anti-depression and anxiety relieving medication prescriptions are increasing, no doubt due to the current cultural stressors. Addictions are on the increase since they provide an otherworldly focus, which deflects from real-life problems. With all that bad news, it is important to talk about how ordinary people continue to maintain and even grow in their marriages and relationships with friends.

As a long time Carlsbad resident, I find my conversations with friends have changed dramatically. Sitting at the La Costa Coffee Roasting Company, one of my favorite hang-outs at 6965 El Camino Real (yes, I know it is a shameless plug) topics range from taking the kids to Legoland or spending a fraction of that money on an El Caribe tostada and a picnic at the new Ambrosia Community Park. Tough decisions like these determine how my family and friends spend their time. Where we once discussed exotic vacation possibilities, we now consider staying local and visiting the Encinitas downtown shopping area, walking the trails of La Costa or ordering tea at the Aviara Four Seasons (much less expense than staying there).

The plus side to this economic downturn is the creative problem solving forced upon us as couples and parents. By creating memorable but inexpensive experiences for our families, important relationships strengthen rather than weaken. Many of us have had to face the sense of entitlement that is born from too many prosperous years and draw on our own resources rather than those that come so easily with easy income. Some of the economical activities my family has discovered include:

  • Visiting the Carlsbad Flower Fields
  • Checking out the Encinitas Quail Botanical Gardens
  • Taking the Amtrak from Carlsbad to Old Town and just walking around
  • Exploring San Diego’s Balboa Park — especially free Tuesdays
  • Walking the Oceanside Pier and the Oceanside Harbor—great places to feel like a tourist on vacation
  • Becoming one with butterflies at the Encinitas Butterfly Vivarium

Spending quality time at the beach — any time of day for any meal feels like a vacation — favorites are Carlsbad State Beach, Moonlight in Encinitas, Torrey Pines, Ponto in Carlsbad, and Buccaneer in Oceanside.

  • Block parties and barbecues
  • Spending Saturday mornings at the Encinitas Seaside Bazaar then cruising through town
  • Going to the new Sea Life Aquarium adjacent to Legoland
  • Attending Carlsbad TGIFridays Jazz in the Park

As we are engaging in these newly discovered activities, we are finding that the obsessive focus on negative aspects of the current climate of our country and community diminish, which keeps our lives in perspective. Problems still exist and need solving but they are only a part of how we live, not the core. Reestablishing friendships and embracing our new lifestyles is both empowering and positive.

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