Debt can destroy marriages

There are many factors that lead couples to divorce, but one that’s nearly always present in troubled marriages is money problems. Even if a couple’s financial situation isn’t dire, differences in how each of us thinks about and handles money can play a significant role in driving us apart. Experts say that financial problems play a key part in four out of every five divorces.

When couples begin serious relationships, whether that involves getting married or just moving in together, they quickly learn that the real person behind that romantic image may not be … well, perfect. Maybe he snores, or she’s a slob, or he chews with his mouth open, or she steals the covers. Nearly any long-term couple can cite something about the other that drives them to distraction.

But quirks related to money can be fatal to marriages. That’s because in most couples, money is a shared thing. What each of you does with it affects the other for good or for bad. If you’re uncomfortable with debt, but your spouse wears out your credit cards, there’s going to be conflict. If one of you is working extra hours to pay off debts your partner brought to the relationship or was responsible for, there’s likely to be resentment. Both conflict and resentment have ways of emerging in all sorts of situations — a simple disagreement over housework blows up into a major battle.

Are debt or other financial problems damaging your marriage? Here are some signs that suggest you or your spouse may have financial problems that need to be addressed:

  • Your tastes are bigger than your budget.
  • You have several loans in addition to a mortgage and student loans.
  • You worry about money nearly every day.
  • Your spouse tells you he or she is worried about the way you handle money.
  • Despite having a well-paying job, you have a lot of credit-card debt.

If money is a problem it your relationship, ignoring it or refusing to discuss it is only going to make it worse. Money problems tend to blossom over time. You need to work together to get a sense of where the problems are, and develop (and follow) a joint program to get back to fiscal fitness.

Many couples find it difficult to have those conversations on their own. That’s where talking to a professional counselor can be helpful. A counselor can encourage an open and honest conversation and ensure that the discussion stays focused on the issues without becoming an argument. If you’re struggling with money, don’t put that conversation off any longer. Make an appointment with one of our counselors today.