Living With In-Laws, Deep in Debt, Husband in Denial, Marriage on the Rocks, and I Need Debt Relief! – Sharla

My husband and I both have federal student loan debts (US Dept of Ed and Sallie Mae). We have already each consolidated and are on 20 year repayment terms. He used credit card in college so we had $8000 credit card debt when we began our marriage. We were able to make payments, but have never paid it totally off.

Over the course of the last 9 years we have had 5 beautiful children. Each child required me taking unpaid maternity leave for 6 weeks. Without any savings we had to use credit cards to get by. After many struggles we found out our eldest daughter has Asperger’s. We have paid a lot of money (using cash or credit cards) for diagonsis, special diets, and therapies. We now have about $50,000 credit card debt. Last year I worked out a deal with Citibank which has about half the debt to let me pay it off at 0% interest for 5 years. My husband has refused to ask his card company for something similar.

All the while both my husband and I have been working split shifts so that we did not have to pay for day care. Last year we sold our house and moved in with my mother-in-law since we could not afford to pay the mortgage anymore.

I am at my wits end. We are still barely making it. My marriage is on the rocks since I never see my husband, my children need us to be a regular family, it is so stressful enough for us all, just living with my autistic daughter…adding financial stress and not having family time has made it even worse. Though she is a nice person, I can’t live with my MIL forever.

We have been avoiding bankruptcy because it will ruin our credit and make getting a home again almost impossible. What are some realistic options for fixing our situation while our children are still young?



Dear Sharla,

What strikes me a first is that you are both blessed with a wonderful foundation and family and cursed with what has become never-ending debt.

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I understand how these issues can come between a good relationship and letting this linger isn’t going to help.

The time has come to take action. in my experience it is usually the wife that hunts down solutions and the husband with their head in the sand. Denial just isn’t helpful, but it’s fairly typical.

The growth of your debt tells me that for whatever reason you’ve been living ahead of your income for a long time. I’m not casting any blame, just making an observation. The reason that’s important is because it is unlikely you are going to be able to live any further below your income to free up enough money to repay this debt in a reasonable period of time, considering your circumstances and urgency.

The irony is your assumptions about bankruptcy might just be the very thing that is holding you back from the legal fresh start you deserve. Let’s see, immediate pain but fresh start and new future, or what you’ve got now for the next five years or more. Hum.

If you file bankruptcy your credit will take a hit. But it can be easily rebuilt again. And bankruptcy would allow you to begin to save again for a house and you’d be eligible to buy one within three years, or even sooner.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that bankruptcy means your financial life is over.

If you filed bankruptcy now you could use the next year to rebuild your credit using my guide, click here. At the same time you could begin to save for that future home or at least have enough money freed up to move out and rent.

Answer this for me: Do you have a greater responsibility to fix the future or the past?

I’d suggest you first read How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth and The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy. They will give you a great overview of what we need to deal with to get you moving in the right direction.

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Then use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

After that, come back here and comment about what seems to make the most sense and let’s discuss that.

Does that sound like a reasonable approach?

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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2 thoughts on “Living With In-Laws, Deep in Debt, Husband in Denial, Marriage on the Rocks, and I Need Debt Relief! – Sharla”

  1. I just want to say, for the record, that my husband is not so much in denial as he is just overwhelmed and not sure how to improve our situation.  He is already working full time 2nd shift and caring for our preschoolers during the day while I am working.

    • So sorry if I misinterpreted what you said. I read “My husband has refused to ask his card company for something similar,” as denial about the situation and an unwillingness to take necessary action.



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