Is debt affecting your relationship?

Having enough money is a really basic need, so when you’re feeling the pressure of debt, it can make you feel scared, upset, stressed and worried about the future.

Some people find it can creep into every moment, and make it difficult to enjoy any aspect of their life. In this kind of environment, staying strong as a couple can become tough.

How can debt affect relationships?

People get into debt for a whole variety of reasons, and it’s not uncommon for the stress of debt to cause couples to turn against each other. You may find yourself blaming your partner for what’s happening — especially if they were directly or indirectly responsible for the debt.

It can also be tricky to talk constructively about this topic, because being in debt is so stressful and can affect lots of things that might be very important to you. Your family home may be under threat or you may not be able to pay for a sporting activity your child enjoys doing.

Your communication as a couple may suffer over time. You may find that you’re becoming increasing withdrawn from each other — not wanting to speak because you know it’ll cause arguments.

Debt can also cause some real issues when it comes to trust. Sometimes one person accumulates a debt without the knowledge of their partner. Finding out that your partner has run up a debt without telling you can feel like a real betrayal. We usually assume that our partner has our best interests at heart — in fact, it’s an assumption that’s key to the stability of most healthy relationships — so finding out they’ve done something to compromise this can have a very profound, emotional effect.

If you have a debt that you haven’t told your partner about, although it’s a hard conversation to have, you need to talk to your partner. It’s very difficult to address debt without both partners being involved, as you will need to look at both of your incomes and outgoings. You might like to think about getting some debt advice before you talk to your partner so you can show them you’ve started to look at solutions and options for dealing with the debt.

What can you do to address debt?

The most important to place to start is by taking practical measures to address the debt itself. You can find out more about this on the longer version of this post on the main Relate site.

Although it can be scary to start accessing help, it can really improve the situation. Within three months of debt advice, two-thirds of people say they have taken positive actions to repay the debt or have even cleared the debt.

It’ll be very important to find a way to address any damage to your relationship that the debt might have caused. How much damage this is depends entirely on your circumstances. But even a small amount of pressure can cause difficulties so it’s always worth checking in with one another and talking about how you’re doing. If you’ve fallen into negative communication patterns, it’s worth thinking about how you might begin to talk properly again. Sometimes, it’s necessary for one or both partners to acknowledge their responsibility for getting into debt. It’s often a crucial part of beginning to rebuild trust again.

If you need help with your relationship, contact us today for advice and support.

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