Do the words you screamed at him/her still taste bitter on your tongue? Did he/she snap at you when you asked an innocent question?
Well, chances are that if you recently had a serious argument with your ‘loved one’, this was because of either love or money. One of the most often cited reason for divorce is ‘fall out of love’.
Statistics also tells us that money problems are mentioned in about half of the divorce cases in the developed world.
You know, I believe that debt is a curse. When it comes to relationships, debt can be a killer or it can be the cure.
This depends on whether you are ready to acknowledge the five debt induced feeling that can ruin your relationship and on what you do next.
In my experience, and from what I’ve managed to glean in conversations with others in a similar situation, facing debt brings about one or more of the following feelings:
On finding out that you are in debt it is only natural to feel angry.
I did! I felt angry with my husband for not managing our finances right, not telling me sooner, not…well, you name it! I was raging like a woman possessed.
I was angry with myself as well. I was angry because I left it all to my husband, for not looking at a financial statement for years, for not realising that his consultancy was going under and the stress he was feeling.
Anger has many faces. It can come as helpless tears; it can come as a diva tantrum. And it doesn’t matter who this anger is pointed at, it is there.
You’ll need to get it out; supressing anger is usually counter-productive.
Anger is a relationship killer!
Disappointment is also inevitable. Again, you may be disappointed with your partner/husband/wife or with yourself.
In any case, disappointment can break up your relationship.
Because disappointment strips us of respect. It is difficult to stay with and be happy with someone you don’t respect; or equally with someone who doesn’t have self-respect.
When you first realise that you are in debt there is also a bouquet of strong feelings around fairness.
I thought it is unfair that this is happening to me!
I thought it is unfair that 95% of the debt was on my husband’s credit cards and I had to deal with it!
I thought it is unfair I have to deal with this in my mid-forties!
Most of all, I simply thought that ‘it is not fair’!
Amazing how something like a lot of debt sends us straight back into childhood when the battle cry on the playground is ‘NOT FAIR’.
Well, it probably isn’t fair but what matters is how to go beyond and what you do next.
This is specific to cases where one partner is perceived as having done something not entirely right; or even plain wrong.
Like build up debt without the knowledge of the other partner.
Like hiding the state of the couple’s finances.
You get the picture.
Trust is the basis of good relationships and once broken takes a long time to re-build.
Being in debt can feel very lonely even when you are in a relationship. People have different approaches, hopes and fears when it comes to debt.
In our case, my husband is a bit like Mrs. Bennett (if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice it is probably time to do so). If dealing with the debt was left to him, we’ll still be paying off the consolidation loan and dream of abundance.
Me…I am more like Jake LaMotta (the Raging Bull); or, if you prefer, Million Dollar Baby – ‘knock them out in the first round’, I say.
I did feel lonely; I was the one making battle.
Feeling lonely in a relationship makes you ask yourself whether the relationship is worth it.
So, another relationship killer.
Yes, you are likely to have one or more of these feelings when you are first getting to know your debt.
What is important, as with many other things, is what you do next.
Yes, you can call in the divorce lawyers and solicitors. I wanted to! I went as far as checking some solicitors’ firms. You know what I found?
I found that solicitors’ firms today provide all kinds of legal services which is very handy. one you can get divorced, fight for custody of your children, sell your house and buy another one; and all that in the same company.
The other BIG thing I found was that I really love my husband and want to stand by my vows ‘for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer’.
We also discovered four actions that helped us cope with the destructive feelings we were experiencing, tackle the debt as a couple and come out with a stronger relationship. Sorry, Broadbents Solicitors but not this time!
First and foremost you will have to think very carefully and seriously about whether or not you’d like to renew your commitment to the relationship.
Deciding to commit deals away with all five negative feeling mentioned above but this has to be done whole-heartedly.
If you decide to commit, commit!
You know, the longer people stay together the less they communicate even if they talk.
Have you noticed that most of your conversations have become ones of necessity? You discuss everyday chores, pass simple information (I put the meal in the fridge) and tell each other what happened at work (or not, as the case may be).
Do you know how your partner/husband/wife is feeling at the moment?
I doubt it.
Go back to basics and start communication; don’t simply exchange information explore how the other one feels; tell your partner/husband/wife how you feel.
Gradually, you’ll start understanding each other again and work as a team.
I’ve come to believe that a lot of the anger, disappointment and distrust that comes at the early stages of dealing with debt is because we lack the flexibility to accept things as they are.
For me, anger was mixed with regret and fear of the future. Once I open my mind and started working on dancing with the situation rather than fighting it, things became much better.
Flexibility and open mindedness also helped me see that I share the responsibility for our financial situation and we’ll be stronger if we do what we are good at.
Forbidding yourself any fun is a jerk reaction of your early life with debt.
But let’s face it, leaving with debt is hard enough without making it even harder with ascetic frugality.
Make sure that your budget includes a line for having fun. It doesn’t matter how large or small this is, just make sure that it is there.
Having fun together helps re-connect as a couple, form a team and really hit the debt.
Having debt brings about feelings that can put strain on your relationship and even kill it.
As with most things, you have a choice: you either let debt win and call in the divorce lawyers and solicitors or you win by making a new commitment, learning to communicate, becoming a bit more flexible and making sure that you have fun as a couple.