Hi, this is Steve Rhode. I’m a consumer debt expert and some people even call me the get out of debt guy.
If you are looking for me you can find me on Twitter @GetOutOfDebtGuy and on the web at GetOutofDebt.org.
This time we are going to be talking about a serious subject, fighting about debt.
Believe me, in all the years I’ve been helping people with money troubles I think I’ve seen an endless number of ways people fight about money. Here is a real example.
Guy: Damnit woman I told you to stop spending. Stop Spending!
Woman: I can’t. I have to spend, because you don’t love me.
I doubt your disagreement about money will be like that but whatever it’s about, they always suck and they are never fun.
Most fights about money are really not about the money, they are about other issues but they are sparked by some sort of money trouble. Debt is always the symptom of an underlying situation. Debt is the byproduct and not the root cause.
Take for example the surprise debt that is created by hidden shopping. The debt is unfortunate and needs to be addressed but in many cases I deal with the shopping was the result of needing to reduce stress or improve self-esteem.
Fighting about money problems is a good news / bad news situation. On one hand it’s never fun to fight. On the other hand the good news is that most times there is a solution that can resolve the issue.
A healthy confrontation over money problems can result in positive steps forward as long as you come together as a team.
Frequent battles and arguments over money are not healthy for a relationship. In fact financial incompatibility is one of the leading causes of divorce. So if we are going to fight about money, let’s fix the problem and turn it into a good news story.
If you feel like you are in conflict over debt there are some easy and simple steps you can take.
The first and most important point is to be honest with each other about your personal and joint debt. Many people are afraid to talk to their spouse about their debt because they’ve been keeping it a secret and they are afraid how the other person is going to react.
The reality is the spouse or partner in the dark typically reacts with hurt and anger. Let’s be honest, when you confess hidden financial infidelity that results in sexually transmitted debt the other person is going to be pissed off, but you’d be too if you had been kept in the dark.
But after a frosty chill hanging in the air for a few days, things always begin to thaw and improve. And they will improve even faster if you are going to drop a debt bombshell if you come prepared to the party with a real plan on how to deal with the debt.
The appreciation of a plan helps to soften the blow of a bad financial surprise. It certainly works better than
Guy: We’ve got this big financial problem I’ve been keeping a secret and I don’t know what to do so you fix it.
Woman: What! Thanks.
The fear many people come to me with is that if the come clean about the debt, their spouse will leave them if they knew how bad the situation really was.
But that has only primarily been the case in partner denial situations. In those cases, one partner refuses to come to grips with the reality of the family finances and despite the obvious and known dilemma they continue to spend driven by underlying issues.
So because the relationship partners refuse to pull together to resolve the problem the other partner gets stressed and freaked out. Those are the situations that tend to wind up in divorce.
Regardless of the exact reasons that brought you to this point, what we need to do next is squeeze your lives back inside your income.
And the way we are going to do that is by making some tough choices to get your expenses to be less than your income. Once you do that then you can begin to dig your way out of the hole you are in.
Debt in relationships is a situation prime with conflict and it’s very possible both people may not agree on what to do. That’s normal. Sometimes it is best to seek the advice of an outside debt coach or someone with experience in these issues and ask for some advice.
So, if you are fighting or think you are about to fight with your significant other about money, repeat after me, “I need honesty, a plan, and advice I can trust and that’s what it going to get me through this mess.”
Remember before when I said I’ve seen some relationships fall apart once the debt was resolved, well I’ve seen many more become closer and better as they fought their way through this difficulty and made it to the other side.
That’s exactly what happened when my wife and I lived through our money troubles. So you see it really can become a positive for you as well.
Just remember, no matter how bad the situation feels right now, at least you’re not on fire, it could always be worse.
Until next time, this is Steve Rhode saying, be sure to practice safe debt.