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Asked by Last Updated:

How to deal with husbands debt?

So my husband and I are newly married as of October 2016.
We have been very open and honest with each other from day we started dating which was a year and a half before we got married.
We went through pre-marital counseling and for the most part we understood where each other was at in terms of different parts that go into marriage ie personality difference, finances, kids, etc.
When it came to finances, we both shared how much debt we each had and the type of debt that was had.
My husband had said that he didn't have any credit card debt.
Well, shortly after we got married I found out that he had $2,000 of credit debt from college because he had experienced quite a bit of shame during that time since he didn't have the money to pay it so he forgot about it.
I knew coming into the marriage that he had experienced shame when it came going to school and hasn't finished as a result of it.
I still loved him for that because its a deep wound that takes time to heal.
But at the same time when I found out he had that much debt that I didn't know about until after we got married, I lost his trust.
Also, generally as a person, it is hard for me to trust financially because i find a lot of security in it.
When things are shaky financially, I kind of freak out.
My husband eventually paid it off in one go but he is still dealing with student loan debt.
This has put strain on our marriage because while i am freaking out about our finances, he is going farther down the shame hole and is unable to stay on top of his loan payment not because he doesn't have enough money to pay it off but because there is so much shame attached to school that he doesn't even want to think about it.
I want to love my husband the best way I can in this area but I feel very helpless and alone.
I also get worried about the consequences from his financial irresponsibility because it may mean that we couldn't qualify for a loan together for a house or it will put setbacks in our financial goals for our marriage.
This a big deal for me because a lot of marriages end in divorce because of financial issues.
The good news is that every other area of our marriage is going very well so the other areas strengthen the rest of the marriage.
I need advice on how to address this issue in our marriage in a loving way and how to move forward.

1 Answers

Alice Answered:

Congratulations on your marriage!
That being said, going through financial troubles is no joke and I really feel for you. Debt of any kind can bring stress and anxiety into a marriage, especially when you find out that the debt was part of deceit on your husband's part.
Likely you know that your husband lied to you about it because he was embarrassed (though he shouldn't have been - MANY people have college debt -whether it's tuition or the cost of living- for many years of their lives and it's all about earning your education!)
Still, it's hard to cope when your spouse lies to you about something. You start to wonder what else they are lying about.
I suggest finding a moment when your hubby is in a good mood and sitting down to have a loving chat with him. You may also consider couple's financial counseling or having a meeting with a local financial advisor at your bank branch.
Remember that, like you said, your husband seems to be spiraling into shame and berating the decisions that he made in his late teens/early twenties isn't going to help anything. Instead, focus on what you can both do moving forward.
Can you tackle the debt together?
Can you both (together or separately) take out a line of credit with your bank and use it to pay off the debt? Yes, you will still have the debt but at a much lower interest rate. This will make it easier to pay off.
Can he apply for some kind of repayment assistance?
There are definitely options out there, so don't fret! I hope everything has been going well with you since you made this post.
In the meantime, there's a useful article (found here: https://www.marriage.com/advice/finance/sharing-finances-in-a-marriage-advice-that-will-help-you-succeed) that's all about the financial advice for married couples. I highly suggest going through this article with your husband and starting a dialogue about how important financial stability is to you. Just make sure to drive the point home without upsetting him too much.

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