January 22, 2021

Love & Money: Talking to your partner about debt

talking to partner about debt

Most of us have had to draw on our emotional reserves this past year, but sometimes our patience runs dry around the ones we love most. When tension is high and money is tight there are a few things you can do to keep things in balance.

Schedule an honesty hour

More often than not, there will be one partner that will bring up the financial issues while the other tries to avoid the conversation altogether. This is not a sign of a troubled relationship – this is true for happy marriages too. So what can you do when your partner starts squirming about the subject?

Set the tone.
Rather than making this about you, or your partner, make it about the relationship. When you can shift your focus onto something and not someone, defensiveness goes down. This might sound like “I value your input and I’d love to brainstorm some ideas about our debt sometime. I think it would be a great way for us to connect and feel better about the future.”

Make time.
Start by scheduling a time and date for weekly discussions. This way both of you can mentally and emotionally prepare for the subject. This also ensures that there is a dedicated time and space to resolving the issue. The rule is, keep it to the allocated time and stick to it. Consistency and boundaries are there to make us feel safe.

Create space.
Communication is challenging as is, but it can feel impossible when there is secrecy around spending. It’s always best to lay your cards out on the table so that a difficult situation doesn’t become worse. In order to create space for honesty, there must be space for forgiveness. If you can both agree to be accountable for your actions and responsible for repair, your relationship will grow into something deeper and more meaningful.

Create a contract

Invest in an emotional savings account.
Money resembles security to most of us, and the unpredictability of it can leave us feeling unsafe and confused. Therefore, creating a safe space to return to is key if you want to soften the impact of unexpected expenses and mistakes. When there’s a slip up, you’ll know what to do instead of turning on one another. This could come in the form of a contingency plan or a nest egg, or alternatively it could be a reminder of your values and the love you share as a couple. This could also look like a list of 20 free romantic date ideas, or an album of photos and love notes that keep you connected.

Make sure your goals and values are aligned.
Love exists where there is freedom. Freedom to be ourselves fully and share our worries, hopes and dreams. Ask yourself what kind of relationship you’d like to cocreate. Then set concrete steps that allow you to accomplish those goals. This is a collaborative exercise that will allow you to both dream a little, which can inspire and motivate you both to abolish your debt. When you’re both aware of one anothers’ bigger aspirations, the little stuff doesn’t seem to sting as much.

Remember you’re not alone.
Couples around the world are maxing out, especially at this time. When your world feels overwhelming, remember to step out for some fresh air so that you can get some perspective. It’s normal to have debt, and it is possible to pay it off.

Times are tough, and we want you to know that you’re not alone. That’s why we provide expert debt counselling services to support you in your journey to finding financial freedom.