When you first fall in love, it feels like nothing can go wrong. You’re in love and you have a best friend and an ally to go through life with, that special someone you can talk about anything with. Everything feels like the end of a movie. As time goes on, however, things get more complicated and your relationship has to survive the mundane, difficult and stressful parts of life too. It can seem easier to hide those parts of life rather than face up to them. When it comes to money problems, hiding debt can seem easier than talking about it. Fear of a partner’s reaction, shame about the debt or uncovering incompatible approaches to money can all seem legitimate reasons to keep debt a secret.
Worrying about damaging the relationship if the debt is revealed can seem legitimate but our experience is that not talking about it can prove to be destructive. We’ve talked about ways to deal with The Money Conversation before. The stress of debt, even when the truth comes out, can put a strain on a relationship. If you can find a way to talk it through in a patient, loving and caring environment, it can be a lot easier.
CAP has recently begun working with the UK charity Relate to understand more about the link between debt and relationships. A total of 4,700 people were surveyed. The findings showed that one in seven adult Brits have hidden debt problems from their partner.
So, what are the reasons? More than half say they feel ashamed, 46% were scared of their partner’s reaction. A third felt their partner had a different approach to money.
Helen Webb, CAP's External Affairs Manager, commented, ‘Talking about finances with your partner can be really tough, especially if you feel mistakes have been made on either side. However, at Christians Against Poverty, we help couples look to the future and find solutions rather than dwell on what’s gone wrong. We’re delighted to have worked with Relate on this research that highlights just how vital it is to brave it and tackle money problems together.’
Nicky was living with her husband in Gloucester when they got into debt after remortgaging to pay off credit cards and personal loans.
‘Bringing up our three children was expensive and it was ridiculously easy to get into debt. We found it easier to ignore the debts and carry on spending than confront each other about it. When we eventually did start trying to talk about It, we’d approach it in the wrong way, which meant we’d argue and, ironically, go out and spend more money. We are paying off the debt now but we had a lot of slip ups and it could have destroyed our marriage. Free support around how to talk about the money without blame would have really helped.’
If you are living with problem debt, you can contact CAP here to find your nearest CAP Debt Centre. To find out more about Relate or to seek help from them you can visit their website here.