Marriage and Credit card debt don’t Mix…

Marriage can be hard enough, but when you throw in a big pile of credit card debt it can make things nigh-on impossible. Even if financial problems aren’t the main issue within an ailing marriage, trouble paying the bills will, at the very least, makes any existing issues infinitely more difficult to deal with.

Couples can have disagreements about how to do the laundry and how to discipline the kids, so it’s no wonder that they might have some disagreements about how to handle credit card debt. One person may want to attack the credit card debt aggressively until it’s paid in full while the other person might prefer to make minimum payments so they can save up to pay cash for a vacation. Whatever the situation, credit card debt is rarely something that brings two people closer together!

Some marriage experts site financial problems as the single biggest reason for divorce, while other experts suggest that financial difficulties might just be a problem that couples can blame all their other problems on. Most agree, however, that you need to be in synch with your spouse when it comes to how you handle your debt if you want your marriage to last the distance. 

“Financial Fidelity”

Are you financially cheating on your spouse? In other words, do you hide purchases on credit cards and obligate money out before you talk it over with your husband or wife? In situations like this it becomes more than just bad spending habit, and instead becomes a trust issue. If your spouse can’t trust you with money, how will he or she trust you with anything else?

Get Synchronized

Here are a few things that couples can do in order to deal with credit card debt and avoid it becoming a relationship-ending problem.

1. Share information. You may not have merged your finances, but your spouse should still have an accurate idea of your financial situation (no matter how embarrassing).

2. Plan your attack. Figure out a budget you can both stick to while also staying fair to the both of you. For example, don’t decide that you’d rather work aggressively to pay off your personal debt and then work on your spouse’s, unless this is something you both agree to.

3. Stick to the plan. Keep each other accountable in all financial matters. Don’t run out and buy a new TV on your credit card unless it’s in your budget and you both agree to the purchase.

4. Forgive each other. You’ll probably both slip up occasionally when it comes to paying off your credit card debt. A healthy marriage will allow both partners sporadic mistakes in dealing with money and in other areas.

Credit Card Debt and Stress

Having a bunch of credit card debt can be stressful, and anyone who has ever been married knows that stress can sometimes lead to arguments and marital problems. When partners start to blame each other for the credit card debt it can’t be good for the marriage.

Approach this just like any other marital conflict. Instead of wasting time and energy on pointing fingers, concentrate on solving the problem. Getting your credit card debt in order – and maybe even paid off entirely – will probably bring the two of you even closer together.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

6 thoughts on “Marriage and Credit card debt don’t Mix…”

  1. Good post! I have been married for 17 years. We have been in debt – deep ugly credit card debt – the entire time [our lowest point was $45K in cc debt]. It took us 15 years to get on the same page financially! Now we have been attacking that debt like never before. We will be free of all non-mortgage debt by mid-year. How I wish we could have acheived this kind of focus from the very beginning. In the past 28 months we have paid back $27,000 on a take home salary of $3,000 a month. [We sold a lot of stuff and been very frugal.] Now that we are so close to ‘debt free day’ we can look back and see that we have actually grown closer as a couple and as a family through the struggle of paying off these debts. I wouldn’t recommend the debt road to anyone as a means to grow your relationship though! I am so grateful that we have remained committed to each other and stayed strong through some very tough years. Our faith in God and our perseverance to pay back all that we owe have made the difference.

  2. Wow!! 45k in cc debt is pretty serious. A $27,000 repyment in just over 2 years is a truly superhuman effort. Fantastic stuff – in case you don’t notice this comment I’m going to send you an email.

  3. Jonathan-
    We are so close that I can nearly taste it! IF the IRS economic stimulus $$ comes in on schedule- and is the amount we anticipate as married filing jointly/four kids -we could be free by the end of this month. Any changes in the amount would delay our final payments by a few more weeks or months. Even without the stimulus money we should be free by October 2008!

    Someday I’d like to write out our whole story…how we could ever get to that level of cc debt seems unreal. At this moment digging our way back out of it seems just as unreal! I know there are many Americans in the same situtation that we have gone through. If our story can give anyone else courage to persevere I would feel that it had been worth the struggle. I have been in debt my entire adult life. I just turned 40 a week ago and I can hardly imagine what it will be like to walk through life debt free.

  4. I would like to rewrite the first sentence in my prior comment- which was a reply to your e-mail question. It should read:
    We are so close to being debt free that I can nearly taste it!…

  5. We are now debt free except for the mortgage. The economic stimulus deposit came through this morning. I quickly sent those funds [plus some] to chase credit card. This is the last of the last of our debt. Over 28 months – from January 2006 till today we have paid off $27,813.82

    This is the first time in my adult life that I have not had credit card debt. Twenty years of bondage. And now it is done. I think my mind has not yet grasped the significance of this moment. I am amazed, relieved, grateful.

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