I have a long-standing challenge to anyone who can prove to me that a relationship ended because of money. They just don't! Money is the scapegoat. The real issues underlay what is easy to point out on a financial balance sheet or a drained bank account.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses student loans during marriage and after divorce; implying educational debt can strike at the heart of a relationship. If we look closely at student loans it's not hard to see why they create turmoil.
The student loan situation in the United States is a travesty! A 2012 report noted that are more than 12 million new borrowers every year, with an average debt of $26,549 and two or more open student loans on their credit reports. In most cases these are students paying for schooling with the intention to use that education to support themselves after higher education. Perception does not meet reality and too few reap the rewards of their high-priced education.
Imagine taking out a loan to buy a car that is drivable for only a few years. You don't get to resell it and there is a high likelihood that driving it will not have any direct financial benefit. But, you get to continue to pay for the privilege for the next decade or two. To put it mildly, the situation sucks!
Now imagine getting married with this debt as part of your partnership agreement. This gives a new definition to baggage! Which presents one more complication for married couples to work on. Buying a home you are living in or purchasing electronics that you use daily—that's easily justifiable. Having to pay a sizeable percentage of your monthly income toward a debt that has no visible benefit is strenuous on any relationship.
Does this drive up the divorce rate or push couples to separate because of financial issues. It looks like it, but NO! The real issue is a couple's ability to put everything on the table, not just finances, but all their needs and responsibilities. When a relationship falls apart because of money pressures it is ALWAYS because the couple has not discussed FULLY the financial conditions they are in. They have not looked at all the legal liabilities and with open eyes accepted and embraced them together.
For most, they enter into a romantic partnership with little to no discussion about their relationship with money or having had experienced enough of each other to know how they manage their money, separate or together. It is the blind leading the blind fueled by lust and a "burning" love for each other.
The student loan situation in this country is a huge wake-up call to couples. Love, physical compatibility, and excitement for a future together are great and essential. But so is taking the time to have an intimate discussion about money. If you are newly married or considering marriage, hire a financial counselor who focuses on new romantic partnerships. The discussion alone will be priceless. The potential for long-term success as a couple will increase exponentially. Long-standing student loans, as unfavorable as they might be, can be accepted into the family like one of your own children. It's a responsibility neither of you should or would deny, nor hold against each other!
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