When you enter any new romantic relationship there’s always a bit of baggage that finds its way in with you. It’s completely normal, especially as you get older and have more life experience behind you, you can’t wipe the slate clean completely every time you meet someone new. But what if the baggage is financial?
A survey in the US shows that 67 percent of women and 74 percent of men enter marriage with some form of debt. And the amount of debt itself can be shocking – consider today’s university graduates, many of whom will be graduating with £30,000 or more of student debt – how many of them will be debt-free by the time they come to settle down? Add to that personal loans, credit card debt and car loans, and it’s easy to see why some people might be a little backwards in coming forward about the true amount of debt they have.
It’s understandable why this would happen, especially if you aren’t the kind of person who feels comfortable talking about money and debt. If it’s a very personal topic for you, you mightn’t feel the need to share it on every first date, and finding the right time to drop this bombshell when things get serious can be difficult.
So what if you found out fairly late into a relationship that your partner was hiding some pretty serious financial skeletons in their closet? In the best light it might be seen as embarrassment, in the very worst, a kind of betrayal. Especially if that debt was accrued during your partner’s life with a past partner – it can be a bitter pill to swallow. But is it a deal breaker? A lot of PF writers might say so, but when you really think about it, if you care deeply for someone, how likely is it that you would end the relationship? And how willing would you be to deal with their debt as a couple going forward?
As with any issue surrounding money and relationships, communication is the key here. If you feel that your relationship is becoming serious you are far better coming clean about your debt sooner rather than later. At least then it is out in the open and it gives everyone time to get used to the situation gradually. You also need decide between the two of you whether you will accept the debt as a couple and repay it together, or whether the person who brought the debt into the relationship will pay it off alone – which will impact on both your lifestyles in the meantime.
There is no clear answer or simple way to do things, and unless things were very serious I don’t think it’s fair to expect your partner to help you repay your debt. But as these things can place a lot of pressure on new relationships, it’s not something that can be easily swept under the rug.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you been in this situation before? How did you deal with it?