Believe it or not, debt troubles are powerful enough to destroy relationships. If you find out that you are dating someone who makes all the wrong financial choices, you need to think twice before pushing through with the relationship. Regardless if you are responsible with your own money or you have your own financial struggles, financial problems can lead to unnecessary tension between the two of you. Debt stress is a serious matter that some couples have to deal with.
But what if you are already engaged with a person who had a lot of debt to their name? After all, people do not go around telling people that they owe money. In fact, a study done by NerdWallet revealed that 7 out of 10 Americans feel that there is a stigma around credit card debt. 35% admitted that they are embarrassed to tell other people about their credit card debt. 43% said that they feel like they will be judged by family and friends if they only knew how much they owe on their credit cards. And almost half of the respondents revealed that they will be less interested in person if they knew that they carry credit card debt.
In case you are already engaged to the person, letting them go because of their debt troubles is easier said than done. If you are already deeply in love and you know that you cannot live without that person – how can you learn to live with their financial difficulties without putting a strain on your upcoming marriage?
What to do is you are about to marry into debt
While it will admittedly be difficult, it is not impossible to have a strong relationship despite the presence of debt. It will take a lot of work and you have to be completely honest and committed to improving your finances.
Here are a couple of things that you need to think about when you are engaged to someone with debt troubles.
Talk about the debt before you get married.
This is how you will see how much someone loves you. If they come out clean with their debt before you get married, it is proof that they love you enough to bare everything to you. This is also your chance to prove to them how much you really love them. After all, it takes a lot of love to accept someone despite all of their financial mistakes and personality flaws. Sometimes, people will not offer to talk about their own financial difficulties – even when they are already engaged. It is up to you to talk about it to unearth any financial problems that the two of you will face. Whether you suspect debt troubles or not, make sure you will talk about your finances. It helps to ask questions every now and then and to encourage your partner to open up. Be understanding and supportive if they are hesitant to tell you about their finances. You should also be wary. Keep on prodding them because when you get married, any financial problems that they may have will also be your problem. Make them feel your support and assurance that whatever problems they may have can be conquered – if only you will both be honest with your finances.
Accept the debt.
When you have the details of their debt troubles, make sure you are ready to accept it – no matter what. Admitting the debt to you is very difficult and you should praise your partner for their honesty. While their admission is admirable, make sure that you mean business too. You have to make them commit to change their ways. If they continue accumulating debt, your own finances and credit reputation could be in trouble. According to NOLO.com, your liability for the debt of a spouse will depend on where you live. If you live in a state that honors the “community property,” you will also be liable for any incurred debt by your spouse – regardless if you know about the debt or not.
Plan how you will pay it off – together.
Once you have accepted the debt, plan how you will pay it off together. Making your partner feel that you will help them pay it off will give you a great start on your marriage. If anything, they will feel motivated to change the habits that got them into debt in the first place. There are many debt payment plans that you can look into. Just make sure that you will select something that the both of you can deal with. Do not force your partner to accept a payment plan that will force them to make drastic changes that will burn them out. Although they are responsible for the debt troubles, be understanding in asking them to make sacrifices.
Set financial goals revolving around the debt.
Finally, set financial goals that you can both target. One of these goals can be getting rid of the debt. Another can involve your retirement. You can also aim to save up for an investment. The goals will help solidify your future together and will keep your partner from making the wrong decisions again about credit. They will be motivated to make better choices to avoid compromising your financial goals.
If you think that being engaged to a person with so much debt is impossible to overcome, we have proof that love can conquer all. Here is a video from Fox Business that discussed how a young couple was able to overcome their debt troubles.
Apparently, the wife came into the marriage with a lot of debt – up to $50,000. The husband was the smart one when it comes to finances and he was able to influence his wife. With both of them on board and making the sacrifices needed to pay off the debt, it seems like they are making great progress when it came to paying it off. The couple expects to pay down the debt in less than 2 years – a great feat considering the amount of debt that they are tackling.
How to keep credit problems from destroying your relationship
Truth be told, living with debt is not something that you should take lightly. Expect that your spouse could backslide every now and then. There will be trying times and you should try to be very understanding with each other. After all, money stress can be a strong factor to lead a couple to divorce.
According to a study done by Experian.com, almost 4 out of 10 couples admitted that credit scores can be a source of stress in their marriage. One-third of the respondents said that the credit score of their spouse had an impact on their chances of getting a home loan. 1 out of 5 couples expressed their concern about their ability to pay their debts.
As you can see, the effect of debt troubles can be significant. After all, this is the reason why your credit score will be damaged – if you do not practice the right credit management skills. To help you keep your marriage from falling apart because of debt, here are some tips that you can follow.
Be understanding but set clear and strict rules.
It is very important for you to remain understanding. If your spouse got into debt trouble, that means they have some habits that need to change. Now it is not easy to change a habit – especially if it is something that you are used to doing all the time. You have to be understanding if they make mistakes. However, you also have to set clear rules and implement them strictly. That way, you can both rely on some guidelines that will help keep you in check.
Be supportive but make sure to teach the lesson.
Any financial problem can be overcome if you are both supportive of each other. Regardless if one is at fault or both of you had a hand in the financial mistake, make sure that you will support each other. But while you will give all your support, make sure the lesson is learned. There are a lot of debt relief lessons that you can both learn along the way. Make sure these lessons will stick.
Be the financial manager but give the other some responsibilities as well.
Since you are obviously the one with the better financial management skills, it might be better for you to take on the role yourself. However, you need to recognize the skills of your spouse too. If they are good at finding great deals and discounts, give them the task of buying stuff for the household. Just make sure they have a list and their budget will be set and met after the shopping errand.