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Facing up to debt stress: How to stop money worries costing your relationship

Money. A difficult topic for discussion in almost any relationship.

Our personal finances impact every single aspect of our lives, even our physical and mental health. Yet we find it almost impossible to talk about it with our loved ones. In fact, Brits are more likely to invite a stranger into their home than to talk about their money with their partners.

Studies show that many British people won’t talk about money before reaching important relationship milestones, such as moving in together (25%) or getting engaged (33%).

When it comes to debt things get even worse. Half of Britons with personal debt actively hide this from their partner and close family. Even though hiding financial problems actually increases stress and can be a real risk to relationships.

So, what things can you do to fix your financial stress AND maintain a healthy balance within your relationships?

When poverty knocks at the door, love flies out of the window

Let’s talk about money

On average, couples have 39 rows over money a year.

Unfortunately, important money conversations are often unplanned and far from constructive.

For example, they may start as nothing more than a passing comment during the Christmas break, which quickly escalates into a row. And with money tensions being the strongest predictor of divorce, it doesn’t come as a surprise that each year there is a massive surge in the divorce inquires in January.

Learning how to have productive conversations about money with your partner is vital for long-term relationship health.

A good way to do this is set aside time, on a regular basis, to talk about any money issues you are worrying about. Then focus on finding solutions that suit you both.

Bear in mind we all have different spending habits. So, it’s important to be completely clear about how we plan to share finances, pay bills, manage spending and our expectations. By doing this, the chances of losing control of your finances are reduced, and definitely more manageable.

Don’t let debt stress trigger the blame game

People can get into debt for any number of reasons. Especially following big life-changing events, such as the birth of a child, redundancy, health issues or buying a property. Changes that can lead to an ongoing household budget deficit, adding stress and pressure to relationships.

It’s not uncommon for ‘the money conversation’ to bring out strong emotions. With one or both partners blaming the other for the current financial status quo.

This is especially true if one of the partners has run up the debt without the knowledge of the other partner. The feeling of betrayal can have a very profound impact on the relationship. Just one of many reasons why one in five relationships are close to a break-up, according to leading relationship support charity, Relate.

The key to countering this is to be open and honest with each other about the state of finances, right from the start. Only then can you properly support each other, especially when times are tough.

Teamwork is needed. Working together is the best way of reducing relationship stress from financial worries, so you both feel empowered to deal with the situation.

Are we on the same page?

It’s all too easy for relationships to come undone when couples are isolated from each other.

If you keep separate finances, separate schedules or goals, then over time this will only create a divide between you and your partner. Left unchecked this could grow into an uncrossable chasm when faced with the stress of a financial crisis.

Even when a partnership is going well, any unaddressed money worries can push people away. When 26% of Brits claim financial stress puts a strain on their relationship it’s clear that we don’t talk enough about the money.

Start checking in with each other and talk about your goal and values in life. A simple way to do this is to write them down and compare notes. Highlight any you have in common and see where you align.

The next step is to actually create joint goals, things you can work towards. It’s a great way to make sure you are both on the same page.

Take action

Now you are both talking and have found common ground, it’s time for an action plan.

One of the easiest ways of making positive change to your future finances is to take the time to understand what is happening right now. Start by examining your cashflow for the last three months. Look at where all the money is coming in and going out. Make sure you include joint accounts as well as your own private finances.

Being aware of what you are both spending. Looking at your liabilities and adopting a spending action plan can go a long way to reducing stress.

Seek support

If, after talking and planning together, you are still worried then it’s a good idea to seek independent professional advice.

Quite often people who are in debt assume the worst. Losing the house, being taken to court or declaring bankruptcy. But by facing the facts and discussing your situation with a professional debt advisor, you will be talked through all available options.

Opening up about the state of your finances is the biggest step.

Seeking help will make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Knowing you are taking the best course of action will reduce any debt stress and tension within your relationship. Giving you the best possible chance to fix any damage done to the relationship, help rebuild trust and regain financial stability. If you need financial advice, please contact us so you can take the first step towards resolving your situation. You don’t know what we can do until you ask.

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