Dealing with debt on your own can be difficult enough without having it invade the variety of relationships in our lives. If I’m being totally honest, issues of debt have definitely affected my relationship with my husband, even having implications with our daily interactions with our children. I find it difficult to establish a routine when it comes to budgeting but it’s important to make things a lot calmer in our house. This is one of the reasons why I want to try and improve our finances and this way we can remove as much stress as possible from our household.
It is true that debt can test a romantic partnership in many ways as money is always a hot topic that is at the root of most of life’s all-important decisions. For example, buying a house, taking a trip, securing loans and future credit, etc. Whether it is one or both of you who are experiencing bad debt – it is likely that there will be a lot of emotions flying around and a certain level of blame is also likely to be present. If you have pooled your finances together or kept them separate, your individual credit scores can impact your abilities to pursue certain financial goals and this can damage certain areas of your relationship.
Depending on whether or not you are in the first year of your relationship or have been together for years, there are some approaches that you can reply on to dealing with debt-filled situations between you and your partner. While some may apply to different stages of relationships, these strategies can be beneficial in order to repair or prevent serious financial issues between you and your partner.
1) Be Honest and Don’t Hide your Debt
Communication is always an important aspect of relationships – and being open and honest about your financial situation as well as your level of debt will be important. While this is definitely difficult at times to reveal, it can be better to tell your partner upfront instead of them finding out later on which could be more damaging and even hurtful. All in all, the best thing that can come from being honest about your debt is that together you can come up with an effective resolution to these debt problems.
2) Managing Joint Finances
Once you have been upfront about your debt, you will want to make a joint financial plan. Will you combine your accounts? Will you keep them separate? These are personal relationship decisions and each couple will decide which is best for themselves. If you are in the position where you are looking to obtain a loan – your credit scores will come into play and if one or both of you have lower scores this will impact how well you will move forward with being able to get the financing. Setting a budget, saving more, and spending less can all be apart of your cohesive financial plan.
3) Goals and Expectations
As mentioned above, if you work together to solve your debt issues – perhaps in many cases this will prove to be more effective. You can devise a plan to combat debt as successfully as possible with each others help. Whether you are negotiating a new credit card or loan rate or searching for payment or saving plan options, collaboratively this will help both of you financially and improve things for the future. In this case, you need to keep in mind and respect the financial responsibilities and aspirations of each other, in order to have a happy life together.
This relationship is not the only type of pairing that can be affected by a bad debt situation. The bond between parents and children can also be greatly impacted. In the case of a parent who’s teenager or young adult child has racked up a lot of debt – this can weigh heavily on both parties. For parents, if they feel obligated to pay off their child’s outstanding bills can run the risk of damaging their financial stability as will as there being a strain on that relationship. In other cases, if parents are always bailing their children out of debt, not only can this lead to feelings of resentment and even disappointment, this is not teaching children to be responsible adults and learn how to manage their finances to the best of their abilities.
While we have not reached this stage of our child-parent dynamic – and I hope we never do, this is an eye opener for us for the future. Debt also impacts our current relationship with our child now, as I have already mentioned with regards to the level of stress we feel as a result of our financial concerns. At this point in time, I think the best we can do is to try and rid ourselves of our debt as much as possible and then we can create an even better household environment for all of us. I also want to try and teach my children early on about financial responsibilities and with this I hope they will be better able to cope with their finances as adults.
Ultimately, I think opening up the lines of communication between spouses, partners, children and parents is a key element to minimizing the negative impact that debt can have on these relationships. In the end for us, knowing that we can still have fun without spending money can add to the amount of enjoyment we get out of our relationship and the time we all spend together.