Don't Let Debt Ruin Your Love Life

couple going over bills together
Love, Heartbreak

Money woes don't just cause relationship problems—they stem from them.

D-E-B-T is a dirty four letter word in any relationship. Money seems to be a sensitive subject for most, yet the topic cannot be avoided when you're sharing your life with someone. As debt surfaces in your relationship, tensions rise and daily interactions between you and your partner drastically change.

For folks who have debt that is out of control, they are often stuck in a spiral of negative emotions. Feelings can range from regret to shame, guilt to embarrassment, hopelessness to despair, disappointment to depression, worry to fear and frustration to rage. As arguments escalate and fears rise, the feelings can become more than either person can handle. You're left feeling like the world is spinning out of control, and you're not quite sure how to get off the ride. How The Recession Forever Changed Relationships

Compounding debt and financial stress can also result in isolation and withdrawal from the relationship. Obsessive thoughts about how to "get out of this mess" create distance. If one partner is hiding debt, it adds even more layers of self-loathing and denial to the stew of financial dysfunction. If the debt is known to both partners in a relationship, but caused by primarily by one of them, money discussions can lead to finger pointing and blame, rather than uncovering real solutions.

It's important to be aware that debt can quickly become a downward spiral, fueled by increasing feelings of self-reproach, that is temporarily relieved by the "comfort" of a new purchase or a new loan.

If you're using credit or loans to make it through the month, if your regular bills have become debts, if you've paid off your debt and it's mushroomed again, or if your lifestyle is shrinking because of growing debt, a financial coach would be a good investment of your time, energy and money. Unless your money patterns are "interrupted," it can be very difficult to affect lasting improvement on your own. How To Tackle Money Matters In Relationships

The Solution:

There are two areas that need healing to effectively solve this problem: your relationship and your financial choices.

In your relationship, to stop the bitter moments from occurring, start to concentrate on the issue at hand rather than being lead down the wrong path by your feelings. Blame, criticism and arguments only distract you from finding a solution and pull you further apart. Clear communication and teamwork are key elements to moving forward in a positive direction.

Envision the happy times you've spent together when there were no monetary worries and set some future financial goals. By letting your guard down and avoiding critical comments you set the stage for open and honest communication in any financial discussion. Be patient with each other as you learn to talk about the issues instead of the feelings. Try to remember you're in this together and keep in the front of your mind that you're working towards the same goal—a goal that takes time and patience to accomplish.

On a personal level, it's also important to forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know. We don't learn money management skills in school. Sure, we're taught how to add and subtract; but money is much more complex than that. Even the typical financial literacy courses that have popped up all over the internet usually ignore the iceberg component that is the emotions we all have around money. It's these emotional components of money that cause us to overspend, undersave and make unwise decisions about our money.

Healing your finances and learning to make better choices often isn't an intuitive process, after all if you knew what to do, you would have done it in the past. This is where getting professional help comes in. Ideally you want to connect with an expert who will help you face your money situation from a judgment-free position. Then together, you can begin to uncover the real cause of your debt. Part of that focus should be on eliminating the debt, but to truly avoid situations like this in the future, you need to understand what's underneath your spending habits.

For lasting results, you want a professional who will guide you in looking deeper, to heal the emotional wounds that trigger your behaviors while designing a strategy for financial stability. As you learn and apply the practical skills, your confidence and competence grows. Your self-esteem heals and all of your relationships improve.

Whatever path you choose, remember that debt should never rule your relationship because together you can overcome any obstacle through the most powerful four letter word called L-O-V-E.