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Don’t Let Your Debt Hurt your Relationship

Debt can be very stressful. It can cause anxiety, loss of sleep, anger, and more. In fact, money is one of the main things that couples fight about. This is especially true when one (or both) of the people in a relationship are in debt.

When you’re struggling with debt, you’re on edge. You’re anxious. You might not be sleeping well or eating well. This can make you irritable and easy to anger. Unfortunately, these emotions sometimes come out directed at loved ones. This can lead to arguments and hurt feelings.

Debt also makes decisions involving money more difficult. When money is tight, choices have to be made and there often isn’t enough money to go around. That means you may need to decide to cut a one expense in order to afford another one. These choices can lead to arguments between partners.

But debt doesn’t have to hurt your relationship. Here are some tips for preventing debt from causing relationship issues.

Stay Truthful

Do not hide your spending habits – or your debt – from your partner. This is a huge cause of debt problems in couples and a major reason for arguments. You might think that you’re avoiding an argument by not telling your partner about your financial issues but, in reality, you’re making the situation worse.

You can’t hide debt forever and it will eventually come out. It’s better to be upfront about it now and work towards a solution while you can, than to hide your debt and have it destroy your financial situation (and possibly your relationship) later on.

Stay Focused

As mentioned, debt issues can lead to arguments. However, it’s important to remember that the real issue is the debt, not one another. The time and energy that you spend arguing could be spent coming up with a plan for reducing your debt.

Communicate

In addition to discussing your spending, it’s also important that you openly communicate your feelings, issues, and concerns. For example, if you’re upset that you cut back on eating out with friends so you could save money, but your partner continues to go out with his or her friends, you’ll need to let them know that this is a concern of yours. However, how you approach the subject is important.

Rather than getting angry or lashing out, have a respectful conversation with one another. Outline any concerns that you may have and use real numbers, not emotions, when you’re talking. There’s a big difference between saying “I can’t stand that you go out for drinks so often!” and “Last month you spent $200 going out with friends. We’ve only budgeted $50 for entertainment.” Being respectful and using facts and not emotions will help your partner understand your point without getting defensive.

Don’t Place Blame

Avoid saying things like “our debt is your fault” or “we wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for you.” Placing blame isn’t productive. While it may be true that one partner has more debt than the other, or that one partner spends more than the other, blaming this partner for your debt trouble doesn’t solve the problem.

Instead, openly discuss the situation and see if the two of you can come to a solution.

Prepare a Plan Together

Remember, you’re a team. Tackling your debt isn’t a matter of placing blame, it’s a matter of coming up with a plan to get your debt under control together.

The first step is to sit down and actually calculate how much you owe. Sometimes, a couple has so much debt that they stop keeping track and start ignoring bills and payment notices. This strategy isn’t productive. Add up your debt. It’s the only way you can fully understand what you’re dealing with and it’s the first step towards making a plan to improve your financial situation.

Once you know how much you owe, work on creating a budget that both you can agree on that allows you to afford your expenses while paying down your debt. You will likely need to make some spending cuts to make a budget work.

Know When to Get Help

It’s important to recognize when you need help with your debt. This will allow you to get help. Always remember that there is no shame in getting help. While some people will want to “push forward” and keep battling against their debt forever, at some point, you reach a situation where there is nothing more  you can do. You need to get help at this point as the only other option is to fall deeper and deeper into debt.

Here are some signs that you may need to consider help with your financial issues:

  • You find yourself missing bill payments or are unable to make payments
  • You can only afford the minimum balance on your credit cards
  • You use credit to pay for other credit
  • You’re losing sleep because of debt
  • You don’t have a budget or you regularly go over your budget
  • You have no savings
  • You’re receiving phone calls and letters from creditors
  • You spend more than you make
  • You don’t know how much debt you have
  • You’re consistently behind on payments

If some of these warning signs sound familiar to you, you might want to speak with a trained financial expert about your debt. 

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