According to a recent Harris Poll, over one-third of married people said financial issues are at the root of their relationship problems, mainly because of overwhelming debt. Perhaps surprisingly, 54% said it’s a primary reason for seeking a divorce.
In the same survey, 60% said they considered postponing their wedding because they didn’t want to inherit their partner’s financial obligations. Other research says extreme debt forces couples to delay life goals, and many miss out on things they once enjoyed together, like going out on a date.
How debt can affect a marriage
The statistics are alarming, especially for spouses who can’t find a way to relieve their financial stress. Here are some of the most common issues:
- Arguments over spending money: One spouse may want to use disposable income to pay off credit cards and loans, while the other favors expensive vacations and possessions. When they use credit cards for purchases, the stress will likely increase.
- Financial infidelity: U.S. News & World Report says the three largest money-related fibs in relationships are secret purchases, hiding debt from a partner and dishonestly over income. Spouses in stressed relationships may even find it necessary to hide minor purchases, such as a cup of coffee.
- Shame and lack of motivation: A NerdWallet study found 87% of people surveyed felt embarrassed to take on debt. Many believe it’s a sign of being irresponsible. Couples with large debt may also become isolated as they think they can’t afford to enjoy activities with friends. This often leads to depression, and many don’t know how to address the issue.
Money problems often lead to resentment
Marriages are often pushed to the breaking point when one spouse with little or no debt feels like their partner’s free-spending ways keep them reaching their goals. That resentment can worsen if the more fiscally-responsible spouse has to pay down the other’s debt.
Relationship experts say it’s critical for couples to talk about money before they tie the knot. For married couples experiencing profound debt, communication is key. Both should work together to find solutions, including seeking outside help, such as credit counseling.