“In sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.”
If you are mired in debt, your wedding vows might as well read “’til debt do us part.”
Debt is the death knell of relationships. Contrary to the popular saying, money is not the root of all evil. Greed is. And debt is the trigger that allows greed to rear its ugly head in a relationship.
When you get married, there is no more “I” or “Me”. Instead, it is “Us”. Both spouses are responsible for the day-to-day nuances of being an officially married couple.
Everything is an open book. In most cases, the couple shares a bank account the purpose of which is to draw funds for paying the household bills.
Problems arise over time when the conjugal account becomes mismanaged. It gets drawn down aggressively to pay off accumulated debts.
Sometimes, the acquisition of debt is the decision of the both spouses. They need a house. They want a car. Perhaps one of the spouses is still in school.
They could be in a situation where one was laid off and cash flow is tight. Jointly, they discuss using the credit card to “bridge finance” their difficulties.
“We can pay off the debt once I get rehired.”
So they avail of the credit card’s cash advance facility or debit feature to borrow to stay on top of the mortgage, the car loan, or the student loan. These facilities have a limit and are subject to interest charges.
Even if the other person has been rehired, the credit card debt has blown up due to accumulated interest. The debt problem has become a runaway freight train. The couple’s life takes a tragic turn. Instead of living for each other, they are living to pay off debt.
The debt becomes like a silver gorilla on their backs. It puts a gigantic strain on their relationship. From a position of understanding, it becomes a blame game.
Worse is debt that is acquired by one partner in secrecy. He/she does not tell the other. The spouse gets into debt because he/she cannot manage his/her desire to acquire material wealth.
The spouse gets more credit cards to fund his/her acquisitions without telling his/her partner.
When the partner/spouse finds out, it is like a betrayal of trust. In ways, it is similar to finding out that your spouse is having an affair. However, instead of another person, the third party is greed.
And what if there are children involved? Children who have needs – school, clothes, medicine, and food?
When children are factored into the equation, it is no longer a question of “Us” but “We”. They become collateral damage in the debt trap.
Marriage is more than just a union of 2 people. It is a bond of trust. Together you should work to protect that union from foreseeable threats. When it comes to being mired in the debt trap, the best recourse is to avoid it all together.