Show of hands if you have ever had to deal with finances in a relationship.
Ok, just as I presumed, it looks like that would be all of us. For some, the extent of what we encounter may be who’s paying for the date. But for many of us, it extends beyond the leisure activities of our relationships and into the “D” word.
I am talking about a word that has a good side and a bad side. A word that has the ability to have a long-lasting effect on you whether you like it or not. Yet, this word is completely tamable with the appropriate actions.
I am talking about DEBT.
The older we get, the more life we live, the more responsibilities we accumulate, we become susceptible to making decisions -or mistakes- that create and involve debt. As individuals, we get that. It’s expected. At extremely high levels, debt can possibly hinder financial security. But if kept in check, debt can be leveraged and sustainable; like mortgage loans, and student loans (I know the perception of that one teeters the fence). Nevertheless, the amount of individuals that can proclaim being “debt free” add up to a whopping quarter of Americans. That means that the rest of us are among the 80% or so that are contributing to the trillions of dollars in overall debt.
While we all may have our opinions about entering a relationship with personal debt or even accepting a partner that carries a boatload of “bad” debt, what we don’t often talk about is the debt accumulated during a relationship or marriage. Let’s face it, the longer you are involved with someone nature takes its course and lives begin to meld together. Whether it’s opening a joint account or assuming a car loan for your partner that may have trouble qualifying on their own – the possibility of negative debt assumption increases exponentially in relationships if you are not mindful.
I know, I know I get it… you guys are getting married, or you have children together, or you’ve been living together for years and you know all of his/her family and they would never leave you hanging. Or what kind of partner would you be if you didn’t take one for the team and help bae come up. That “I got you” mentality can be a slippery slope. IJS.
The reason why I suggest proceeding with caution is simply because of how we deal with money is a direct reflection of our values. Money issues stem from deeper issues that surpass debt accumulation. Debt is just merely the reactionary tell-tale sign; and understanding your partner’s relationship with money is so important.
So where do we go from here?
We ask the questions. Often times the questions are tough. They can be uncomfortable, but very necessary. Keeping in mind that many of us can carry a lot of guilt or shame with financial decisions that have been made in the past, if you are in a relationship with a person that you believe there is an absolute future there are specific ways to dignify the outcome.
Partnership is key in recognizing detrimental behaviors centered on finances. According to Money Magazine, 70% of people believe that effectively handling debt repayment leads to healthier relationships – which means there’s hope. The audacity of that. I would suggest that if your partner is transparent with you and willing to commit to a plan then it’s probably worthwhile to stay the course.
Keep in mind the keywords are transparency and planning.
Because debt can cause serious issues when it comes to trust it is important that open communication play a significant role in our relationships. Much like communication, adhering to a financial plan or budget is a skill and takes a lot of practice.
At the end of the day debt does not have to be a deal breaker (whew thank God – did I say that out loud?).
With accountability, communication, planning AND a partner you can successfully tackle the “D” word.
Let’s keep doing the work Keepers.
Illustration Source: Freepik