The impact of financial pressures on relationships

Posted 26 May 2016

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Is your relationship feeling the financial strain?

Financial instability puts pressure on couples and families and it can even cause arguments and increase dissatisfaction. 

According to findings published yesterday by Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, there was a peak in the number of couples in trouble during the last recession, and that number has fallen as the economy has recovered. 

Distressed relationships

Relate also estimates there are 2.87 million people in ‘distressed’ relationships, partly because of financial pressures. 

Perhaps surprisingly, the report also showed that although people were more likely to be in a distressed relationship during financial hardship, they were actually less likely to consider splitting or divorce. As the economy recovered and grew, so did the number of couples considering divorce or separation. 

This supports the idea that financial worries can increase conflict in relationships, but can also discourage people from leaving relationships they’re unhappy with. One reason for this could be because people are wary of the further financial strain that splitting and divorce can cause. 

Money and relationships

There are a number of reasons why couples might argue about money in the first place, and if there is also a general feeling of economic uncertainly, it’s not hard to see how this might turn into a major problem in a relationship. 

If money is causing a problem in your relationship, there are steps you can take to try and restore a little more certainty and harmony. What those steps are just depends on what is causing the discord to begin with. 

Arguing about debt

If you are arguing because one of you is in debt and the other one isn’t, it’s important to remember that you don’t become responsible for someone’s debts just because you’re together – even if you’re married. This means that you’re not responsible for paying the money back and how your partner’s used credit in the past should not affect your credit history unless you have joint finances. 

If you’re worried that your debts (or your partner’s debts) are getting out of control, it’s very important that you work on a plan together to address the problem. For example, it might be possible for you to make changes in your lifestyle that would make it easier to make your repayments. 

If you’re stressed because you’ve missed repayments on your debts, make sure you keep in contact with your lender. You need to let the lender know why you’ve missed the payments and when you intend to catch up. If you can’t cope with the payments at their current level, ask whether you can take a payment holiday, or if you can lower your payments or if they can freeze interest and charges so you don’t get charged for any payments you miss.  If you don’t feel confident doing that yourself, speak to a debt advisor – such as the ones here at Debt Advisory Centre.

Divorce and debts

It seems from the report that couples are less likely to separate during times of financial hardship and uncertainty – because of the extra financial pressures that splitting up can bring. 

While it’s true that unplanned changes in your circumstances can cause financial problems, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and minimise the risk of you falling into unmanageable debt, if you’re splitting or getting divorced. 

If you’re in this situation, make sure to look at our blog to see what happens to your debts if you’re divorcing. 

Finding a solution

There are various debt solutions available to help you with unmanageable debts. They involve reducing your payments on your unsecured debts or in some cases, suspending your payments altogether. 

If debt is a sore issue between you and your partner, starting the right solution for your needs could help to ease the strain on your finances and your relationship. For professional, free advice from one of our advisors, just use one of the options on the left. There’s also lots of free and impartial guidance available from The Money Advice Service. 

If you feel you need help with your relationship as a separate issue, why not get in touch with Relate? They have lots of advice on how to make your relationship stronger, and also offer a counselling service. 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.