Unfortunately, there are a large number of factors that can hurt your marriage. Bad credit ranks up there with the most important. The tricky thing is that bad credit can destroy your marriage, and often does so in ways that are hard to see or understand – unless you take steps to correct the problem.
Part of this is a result of the fact that bad credit usually develops over a long period of time, rather than from a catastrophic event. In fact, catastrophic events often bring couples closer to one another in order to deal with the crisis. But bad debt can be like a slow acting cancer, starting innocently enough, but growing to the point where it can become its own crisis.
The fact that it happens so gradually and so quietly makes it easier to “live with” for a while, and that’s when the real problems that can destroy a marriage begin to set in.
Bad Credit Adds Stress to a Marriage
It’s long been known that money is one of the leading causes of divorce. But what is less well understood is the stress that financial problems exert on intact marriages. Bad credit is certainly one of those financial problems.
In Fighting with your spouse? It’s probably about this, CNBC reports the following:
“Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a survey of people in a relationship or partnership released Wednesday by SunTrust Bank. Some 35 percent of all respondents experiencing relationship stress said money was the primary cause of friction. (Annoying habits came in second, at 25 percent.) Among respondents with relationship stress aged 44 to 54, 44 percent said money was the primary cause.”
Bad credit can result in paying high interest rates, having credit lines frozen, calls from collection agencies, even court imposed judgments. Each of these individually represent a source of stress, but if you have bad credit across the board, that stress then comes from multiple directions.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that many couples can improve their marriages by fixing their bad credit. And since marital problems often get worse with time, the sooner that credit fixes are implemented, the better off the couple will be.
Not Being Able to Get a Loan for a Necessary Purchase
With the cost of so many necessary purchases being so high, having access to affordable credit has become a means of survival. Think about the cost of a home, a car, or a college education – few people, particularly in the middle class, can purchase any of these necessities without resorting to credit.
And it’s no longer just those three major expenses that typically involves borrowing money. Other expenses that may require the use of debt includes making major repairs to your home (replacing the roof, furnace and air conditioner, or repaving the driveway), paying for health insurance deductibles or uncovered medical expenses, and even major car repairs, all of which routinely cost many thousands of dollars. Each can create a necessity to borrow money at least on a short-term basis.
If you have bad credit however, you won’t be able to purchase any of those items, whether it be a home, a car, or even a necessary medical procedure.
The inability to afford to cover any of these expenses can lead to a degrading in your standard of living. Not only might that force a married couple to do without a very important product or service, but it can add to marital stress and conflict over how the couple got into that situation, and who may bear primary responsibility.
So far, we’ve discussed a married couple with bad credit; but now let’s consider the complication involved when only one partner has bad credit.
In Poll: 13 million Americans commit financial infidelity CreditCards.com reports that millions of Americans are hiding the existence of either a bank account or a credit card account from their significant other.
The article doesn’t break out how many of the hidden accounts are specifically related to credit, but it’s certainly in the millions. In fact, the article goes on to state that hiding accounts isn’t even unusual.
But why would anyone hide the existence of credit cards or other loans from their spouse? The most likely answer is that the account is used to make purchases that are also hidden from the partner, much like a secret stash. But it’s equally likely that an account is hidden because it’s a troubled account. This could mean that the account is seriously delinquent or even in collection status.
But apart from specifically hiding individual debts, a couple could maintain an unspoken policy of secret credit use in general. This can happen when both partners are aware that their credit situation is damaged, and live in general denial of how bad the situation really is.
Under this scenario, credit problems can get so large that the couple is forced into bankruptcy or foreclosure. That’s when things get really ugly!
Creating an Unbalanced Situation
This can play out in one of two ways:
- One partner has excellent credit, while the other has poor credit, or
- One partner is debt-free, while the other has a large and growing pile of debt.
Either outcome can create an unbalanced situation in a marriage. For example, if one partner has poor credit, it may force the couple to rely primarily or entirely on the credit rating of the stronger partner whenever credit is needed to make necessary purchases.
In the second situation, the partner with a large and growing pile of debt may be causing financial stress on the household. This can manifest itself in the form of the over-indebted partner being unable to provide his agreed-upon share of the financial responsibilities.
Either outcome creates a situation in which there is a responsible partner and a spendthrift partner. In time, the burden on the responsible partner will increase, and can lead to serious conflicts in the marriage.
The Bad Credit Partner Can Pull Down the Good Credit Partner’s Credit
If the credit of the bad credit partner is really bad, it will be just a matter of time before the good credit partner gets sucked up into the same situation.
Part of this will have to do with the increasing reliance on the good credit partner’s credit. This can result in the good credit partner’s credit being stretched to the limit, eventually creating a situation where the debt can barely be serviced.
But there are also psychological factors here as well. For example, bad credit can become infectious. Over time, the good credit partner can adopt a “what’s the use” attitude toward his or her credit, and let it slide into oblivion. After all, it can be very difficult to not adopt the bad habits of the person you’re married to.
Fixing Bad Credit May Be a Form of Fixing Your Marriage
Since bad credit has such obviously negative implications for a marriage, it becomes mission-critical to get the problem resolved before things get worse. And they can, ultimately resulting in bankruptcy, foreclosure, and even divorce.
It’s best to bite the legal bullet now, saving both your finances and your marriage. Depending upon how deep and complicated your credit problems are, you may need to get legal representation to fix your credit. If that’s the case, do it now so that you can put your credit problems behind you, and enjoy a better life and better marriage.