In my years of experience, I have often seen couples struggling to cope with the stresses of every-day life. It’s hard enough to keep the house clean, keep the boss happy at work, make sure the kids get to school on time and then try to find time to be happy as a couple—let alone have some “adult time.” Throw in a constant nagging and worry of how we will make the next car payment, or the $708 phone bill because we just realized we accidentally skipped a payment last month, or how we will replace the water heater that just decided to spill its guts all over the hallway floor, and the pressures of life begin to weigh us down to a point where we just want to throw in the towel and become a homesteader. Tragically, these financial pressures often go unspoken between spouses until it reaches a boiling point where the only release is a hateful exchange of words blaming the other for the problems the couple is facing. The truth is, financial problems create an emotional time-bomb which only leads to harm or destruction of what was once a beautiful union.
It all stems from the psychology of how we as men and women receive the feeling of “love” from one another. You see loving someone and having that person feel loved are two distinctly different things. I’m not talking about anything physical, but rather how a man or woman internally perceives love and happiness in a relationship. I give credit to a presentation from debt guru, Dave Ramsey, for this analysis because I find it to be true in my own experience. You see, for men, we need not physical expressions from a woman to truly feel loved; rather what we need first and foremost—RESPECT. Women, on the other hand, to truly feel loved, need first—SECURITY. Financial problems destroy the foundations of both respect and security in a relationship.
Sexist or not, years of societal expectation has driven into the male psyche the role of provider. If a husband is struggling to pay the bills, he is beating himself up inside. His worry is that his significant other will lose faith in him, will think less of him, and ultimately, not love him anymore. He no longer feels loved.
Moreover, the same financial problems begin to make the wife feel uncertain about her future and her choice in life partner. She begins to lose respect for him—even if only subconsciously. “I’m so worried all the time. Can this person really support me and the kids? Is this as good as it's going to get? I’m so tired of worrying all the time. Why doesn’t he just work harder or more? “ She no longer feels loved. The truth is that the real problem for this couple was never that they didn’t love each other; rather the distraction of financial burdens built a wedge clouding their recollection as to why they fell for each other in the first place. Remove the wedge (i.e. the mounting debt) and it creates room for the couple to be able to enjoy each other once again the way they did before the stain financial turmoil.
I have often seen and counseled couples who after eliminating their debts found deeper appreciation for each other. It's easy to focus on the financial problems we face rather than each other because they seem like more of a priority at the time. While some relationships are irreconcilable, there is no need to let something like debt [which can be handled in a number of ways] be the sole motivating factor for ending a relationship.
I have helped numerous clients navigate the waters of financial difficulty and reach a solution that works for them on both a practical and spiritual level. Eliminating debt is often not just a financial success, but also a recipe for a healthy relationship.
If you find yourself relating to this message and want to explore what options you may have, I invite you to contact my office. Bankruptcy and debt-related service consultations are free and there is no obligation to use our services. Placing a value on eliminating debt is easy from a personal financial perspective, but placing value on a lifetime of marriage with your partner is more complicated. In some instances eliminating your debt saves both.