Bringing Debt into the Marriage
Student Loan Debt…Credit Card Debt…Auto Loan Debt. Ugh I hate it ALL!
For most couples, at least one person (or even both) brings some form of debt into the marriage. Often times, this financial baggage puts a strain on the relationship, causes many arguments and perhaps even leads to premature divorces in some cases.
For us, I am the one that’s bringing a SIGNIFICANT amount of debt into our marriage. My financial baggage stems from my student loan debt that I have racked up from my undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Initially, I was ashamed of my debt and felt guilty ALL THE TIME about it. I thought my debt defined who I was and that Felice wouldn’t want to be with me because of it. Over time, I figured out that was further from the truth and realized that my debt is temporary and that Felice loves me unconditionally no matter how much student loan debt that I have accumulated.
I felt compelled to write this blog because there are a lot of couples out there that are currently going through this situation as an engaged couple or even as newlyweds. Whether you are the one with the debt or the one that’s debt free. This blog post is for YOU!
At one point or another in your relationship, you got to have that super awkward, yet very important, conversation about each other’s financial baggage. This is when sh*t gets REAL in the relationship!!!
Not only you have to figure out how much their salary is, but you have to know how much debt that they have and fully understand their thoughts about money.
Sidebar: Review each other’s credit reports…this will tell you all you need to know about your significant other’s financial situation. Trust me…it’s a great exercise to do.
Within two months of us dating, I told Felice how much I owed in student loans debt…over $100K to be exact. I just remembered the “What the F*ck” look on her face when I shared this with her and quite frankly, I was concerned that the relationship wouldn’t last that much longer. I just wanted her to be aware of what she was getting herself into and give her the opportunity to decide if she wanted to continue with our relationship or not. And she wanted to continue it…Thank the Lordt!
But in all seriousness, being transparent about your financial baggage early on in the relationship is one great step to building trust with each other. It allows you to put everything on the table and address the topic head-on before deciding to go down the path of marriage.
Sense of Guilt
For anyone that’s bringing debt into a marriage, I’m sure you can relate to having a sense of guilt when it comes to your financial baggage. It is a HUGE ask of your spouse to make your debt become their debt.
I have felt guilty about my debt ever since I told Felice about it. Just the fact that I’m bringing such a significant amount of debt in our new life together causes immediate anxiety and stress. This is something that’s on my mind and I always think about the things we could be doing for ourselves and our family, but we won’t be able to do those things because my student loan debt.
It is not fair to Felice for her to take on this burden and put things on the back burner as we start our new life together. However, she has continued to reassure me that my debt isn’t permanent and that it will only make our relationship stronger.
If you are feeling guilty about your debt, please don’t beat yourself up about it. Easier said than done. But I have learned to use my guilt as motivation to get rid of the debt ASAP.
Support & Encouragement
Teamwork makes the Dream work….this cliché saying sums up the mindset to have while you guys tackle this debt together as a married couple.
Although this may not be your debt, your continuous support throughout this time is MUCH NEEDED. Whether if you have to sacrifice some quality time so that your spouse can work a part time job or just saying a few words of encouragement when your spouse is feeling down and out about the whole situation.
Felice has been more than supportive and understanding about the whole situation. Her encouragement has further fueled my fire to tackle this debt head on , so that we can live the way we want. She has even taken on my debt as her own and I love to hear when she says “We will be debt free.” This statement alone just makes me love her even more! (MUSHY MOMENT)
Commitment to Being Debt Free
Although bringing debt into the marriage sucks, there is some good that can come from it. Whether it forces you to be more mindful of your personal finances or whether it fuels your mission to being debt free as husband and wife.
Through this journey, it has made us be more aware on our finances and helped us develop a few great money habits (budgeting, using the envelope method, etc.) that will make the journey a little easier. We are committed to being DEBT FREE and building wealth that will last for GENERATIONS. I have seen how this journey has made our relationship stronger and I am 1000% confident that once we are debt free, we can conquer anything that comes our way. And the same can be for you as well.
Hopefully by reading this post your stress and anxiety levels have minimized and now you are more encouraged to attack it together as a married couple. And going forward ALWAYS REMEMBER to be transparent, eliminate that sense of guilt, continue to support and encourage each other and stay committed to being DEBT FREE!