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Coping With Debt-Related Marriage or Relationship Problems

Money issues can put a major strain on marriages and relationships. Dealing with debt is one of the biggest challenges couples face today. In fact, finances are the #1 cause of stress in relationships, according to studies by SunTrust and the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

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But it doesn’t have to be this way! With open communication, understanding, and some practical strategies, you and your partner can overcome debt-related problems. This article will provide tips on how to cope with financial stress as a couple so you can strengthen your bond.

Communicate Openly About Money

The first step is to start talking openly about finances. Many couples avoid discussing money, which just sweeps problems under the rug. Bring up financial topics in a calm, honest way. Share your anxieties and goals. Listen without judgement.

Have regular money talks – like once a week or month. Cover topics like:

  • Income and expenses
  • Debt balances
  • Budgeting and savings goals
  • Retirement planning
  • Large purchases
  • Financial habits and attitudes

Bring up awkward subjects too, like spending regrets, secrets, and mistakes. The more you discuss finances, the more comfortable it will become.

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Make Paying Off Debt a Team Effort

If debt is putting a strain on your relationship, commit to tackling it together. Make a detailed debt payoff plan with specific actions like:

  • List all debts with balances and interest rates
  • Cut expenses to free up more cash
  • Pay minimums on all debts, then put any extra towards the highest-interest debt
  • Once the first debt is gone, roll that payment to the next debt
  • Celebrate each payoff milestone together
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Automate payments and use apps to track progress. Share both setbacks and wins. Having a shared mission will motivate you.

Create a Joint Budget

Budgeting with your partner aligns you on saving and spending priorities. List monthly income, then fixed costs like housing. Next, decide on discretionary spending limits for categories like dining, entertainment, etc.

Use an app like Mint or spreadsheets to track every dollar coming in and out. This visibility keeps you accountable. Stick to your defined budgets, adjusting as needed.

Split Shared Expenses Fairly

Decide what’s fair for splitting housing, utilities, groceries, and other routine costs. Some options:

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  • 50/50 split
  • Divide based on income percentage
  • Take turns covering bills

The right approach depends on your financial situations. Do what feels equitable to both.

Maintain Some Financial Independence

While merging finances with your partner can be helpful, it’s wise to keep a degree of independence. Consider having separate accounts in addition to joint ones.

Keep your own checking/savings account and credit cards. Set aside an “allowance” in your personal budget for discretionary spending without guilt.

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Financial interdependence with room for autonomy reduces conflicts about money and power struggles.

Get Professional Help if Needed

If you just can’t get on the same page about finances, don’t be afraid to seek outside help. A financial advisor can assist with budgeting, debt payoff, and investing as a couple.

For more serious issues, meet with a credit counselor or financial therapist. They can mediate money conflicts and change detrimental behaviors. Don’t let pride derail your relationship.

Remember What’s Important

During money talks and struggles, focus on understanding each other’s feelings and needs, not “winning” arguments. Show empathy about fears and hopes.

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Remind yourselves that your relationship is more important than money. The love you share can help you endure challenges and grow stronger together.

Debt and financial problems don’t have to ruin a marriage or relationship. Turn it into an opportunity to deepen your connection and commitment. With teamwork, understanding and professional help when required, you can overcome money issues – and build a lifetime of love.

References

[1] Top 6 Marriage-Killing Money Issues

[2] How to Deal with Financial Stress in Marriage Without Losing Your Mind

[3] Don’t Let Money Make a Mess of Your Marriage

[4] I Have Debt: Dealing With Money Issues In A Relationship

[5] 5 Financial Problems in Marriage and How to Avoid Them

[6] How Do You Deal With Financial Stress in a Marriage?

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