Did Cupid Shoot Your Arrow Straight Into Debt?
Let’s talk about love & debt, Cupid is up against a mighty opponent this Month of Love: DEBT. Participants in the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) monthly poll indicated they would have serious reservations about taking on the debt of the person they love, even to the point of ending the relationship. “When considering the negative ramifications of debt, people may not realize that the associated problems can go beyond credit scores and interest rates. Debt can also have serious, long-lasting personal implications,” said Joe Stokes, CEO for Consumer Credit Counseling Service. “It appears that debt overrides love, at least temporarily, when deciding to move forward in a relationship. It’s money over marriage.”
The fact that debt can give a person second thoughts about continuing a relationship may be particularly true with young adults who emerge from college with tens of thousands of Rands in credit card and student loan debt. If two millennials with similar debt obligations marry, they could begin their happily ever after with a six-figure debt load.
Love and money cannot be separated. Financial decisions large and small are made each day in a marriage. For that reason, couples will be well-served to communicate openly about their finances, willingly sharing all sources of income, existing debt obligations, credit reports and scores, along with personal preferences about decisions involving loaning money to family and friends, or attitudes toward spending and saving. Financial baggage can be heavy, but settling differences before walking down the aisle will go a long way toward making happily ever after a reality.
6 Ways To Prevent Debt From Destroying Your Marriage
Debt And Marriage Destruction:
We all know that debt can be very destructive to a marriage. But how often do we think about just how destructive it can actually be? Hopefully, this post will get you thinking about the issue of debt in your marriage and get you to deal with it before it’s too late.
Here are 6 ways in summary:
1. Recognize you have a problem.
2. Hit the pause button on big decisions.
3. Seek marriage counselling immediately.
4. Get financial coaching too.
5. Plug into a proven debt elimination system.
6. Commit to the outcome of a healed marriage AND to debt elimination.
1. Recognize You Have A Problem:
Just like every other negative issue in life, we can’t begin to make any sort of progress it until we recognized and admit that there’s actually a problem. If you and your spouse fight about, cry about, avoid dealing with, blame each other or otherwise tear each other apart over debt and money, you have a problem.
Having more month left at the end of the money and continuing to go further into debt is definitely a problem that will require both serious and immediate intervention. It’s a curious reality that, until we sit down and do a budget during our first coaching session, most clients have little to no idea how much they’re overspending every month. Many times it’s well over R1000 per month!
Recognize there’s a problem and resolve to do something about it right now. Please don’t wait.
2. Hit The Pause Button On Big Decisions:
If you’re beginning the process of making any major life decisions like, buying a house, buying a car, choosing a school or possibly relocating, we always suggest that you press the pause button wherever possible and get help dealing with the underlying relational issues before following through.
Making major decisions are rarely a resolution to your relationship problems and many times can make them much worse in very short order. So, we want to press pause and make sure that we’re beginning to uncover and deal with the relationship issues.
So, halt any major financial or life decisions (if possible) and seek the help of a professional before you move forward.
3. Seek Marriage Counseling Immediately:
It might come as a surprise to hear a financial coach suggest that you get marital counselling first, but it shouldn’t. While I definitely see financial coaching as an “arm” of marriage counselling, the two are definitely not one and the same.
Why do we recommend marital counselling first? Financial problems are always the manifestation if a deeper conflict in a relationship. Relational and personal issues like fidelity, trust, intentions and habits will be better addressed and more precisely managed with the help of a marriage counsellor.
And again, financial coaching will give you strategy and tactics for the nuts and bolts of the financial part, but a solid marriage counsellor will help you drill deep into the real issues and fast. So, we always suggest starting there.
4. Get Financial Coaching Too:
Just like you need marriage counselling for the “deeper things” of your marriage, you will likely need a financial coach to help you navigate all the bad money habits and practices you’ve developed over the years. The financial coping mechanisms you’ve used must be both unlearned and then retrained into more functional financial habits.
As this is all about recognition and behaviour modification, it’s important to understand that, just like marriage counselling, this can take some time as well.
Beyond developing that budgeting skill, a financial coach is going to ask a lot of questions and help you to look at your finances with fresh eyes. If you’re over budget, they’re going to challenge you to learn how to say, “I can’t afford it”, at least for the short-term. You might at this point consider debt counselling; but do you need debt counselling?
5. Plug Into A Proven Debt Elimination System:
If debt is tearing your marriage apart, you need marriage counselling, financial coaching and a system to follow that will lead you out of debt.
One needs to follow a system or a program that will help you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Having a system to help keep the two of you on track and accountable both internally (to each other) and externally (to your coach/accountability partner) will be pivotal to helping you get out of debt and to reaching your goals.
6. Commit To The Outcome Of A Healed Marriage AND To Debt Elimination:
Finally, none of this counselling, coaching or system following will be able to work unless you’ve committed to the outcome of a healed marriage and to eliminate your debt once and for all. Commitment to each other and to the process are absolutely necessary.