My Husband and I Can’t Talk About Our Debt. The Stress is Terrible. – Melissa

“Dear Steve,

married 6 months…i just dont know how to tell my husband that i have terrible debt…he seems to avoid hearing me and attempting to assume and responsibility to help me. It is putting my marriage at risk because I am so stressed….. i cant focus on the whole marriage be happy thing!!! I feel ashamed and also like a failure!!!

What do i do…how do I ask for help? part of me is really made because I have to ask for help!!!! I guess I am angry that I have to spell it out so much for him? I feel like the marraige is at risk if I have to continue to handle this on my own.


Dear Melissa,

One of the things life has taught me is that when it comes to relationships i find that people of opposite money concerns attract each other. For example, spenders attract savers and free spenders attract budgeters. There are a number of reasons why this happens but that’s for another discussion.

You said, “I guess I am angry that I have to spell it out so much for him?” Just because you are good at managing money and being aware of your financial responsibilities that doesn’t mean he’s going to be. Especially if he’s in a creative field like artist, salesperson, etc. Some of us are just wired differently.

Take my wife and I. After 30 years of marriage she still doesn’t get the fact I never remember to take the trash out. It bugs her. I don’t do it intentionally. I don’t try to avoid it. I just never remember it. I also never remember to get napkins at fast food restaurants. There might be some reason why I’m that way but it beats me. It’s just the way God made me. But then again God also made me so I always remember to put the seat down.

The conversation you really need to have is if he will allow you to assume control of the family finances. If he will, which I would imagine he would, then it will be your responsibility to give him a quick weekly update where you all stand. You could even create a separate bank account for him and transfer a weekly allowance into it for him so he can have a little bit of free money to do with as he wants.

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If you take over managing the family finances it will be important for you to make it a point of keeping him in the loop on how the finances are going. You never want to let him think you’ve frozen him out. That will lead to resentment.

couple fighting

If you are hoping to change him into a money responsible person like yourself, that’s not going to happen and if you think you can do anything to change that it will just lead to stress and conflicts.

You are not a failure, nor a loser. You just handle money differently. That’s all.

Here are three previous posts that might be helpful to you as well.

I’ve Hidden My Debt From My Husband. I’m Afraid He is Going to Find Out. – Cheryl

I Am Deep in Debt And My Husband Doesn’t Know. – Vicki

My Husband Will Divorce Me When He Finds Out About My Debt. – Pay

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


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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 “My Husband and I Can’t Talk About Our Debt. The Stress is Terrible. – Melissa”

  1. Steve –

    These questions are never very clear, are they? It is hard to decipher what is going on.

    However this statement:

    “i just dont know how to tell my husband that i have terrible debt…”

    Seems to indicate that the author is the one with the debt, not the husband. In other words, the husband is the “responsible one” here, not the author.

    Unless I read the question wrong.

    I am surprised by how many people enter into a marriage without knowing about each other’s financial situation.

    I am equally shocked at how many people, even after years of marriage, maintain separate checking accounts and think of things in terms of “her money” and “his money”.

    I know one couple, who, after 20 years, still splits all the bills every month!

    Problem is, in most jurisdictions, the money is not “his” and “hers” but rather joint marital assets.

    Oh, well…..

    • Another way to read it is the debt is the result of the inability for the couple to communicate and so the debt racks up.

      Yes, we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

      I’m always amazed that people can sleep together, have kids together, and still not be able to communicate about money issues.

      A classic example was a guy that came to me and said his girlfriend of seven years was going to leave him because he was unwilling to commit to a relationship. The reason he wouldn’t was because he was afraid to tell her about his bad credit. Hell of a reason to lose the love of your life.

      I’m old school on the married money issue. I’m with you, I think that separate accounts are an unnecessary excuse for secrets when they are his and hers.


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