One in seven people in debt has hidden the problem from their partner.
And, according to latest figures from the Money Advice Service, 15.8% of adults (aged 18+) in the Bedford borough area and 14% of adults in Central Bedfordshire have a debt problem – that’s 51,630 people. In Luton, 18% of adults are in serious debt, equating to 29,395 people.
Relate’s report, In too deep: an investigation into debt and relationships, sponsored by Provident Financial, reveals strong links between debt and relationship issues.
One in five (20%) of people in ‘problem debt’ nationally experiences a relationship breakdown where debt is at least part of the reason. In addition, 25% argue about money, debt and other financial matters with their partner at least once a fortnight.
Relationship dynamics, such as how well a couple communicates and whether they have a shared approach to finances, can make all the difference, says local Relate counsellor Diane Whitmore.
“Money worries are one of the top strains on relationships and in the current financial climate, we now see a lot of clients who are struggling with debt,” says Diane. “Debt is a stressful thing for anyone to go through and frequent arguments about money are common among couples whose finances are under pressure.
“We also hear from some couples where one person has been hiding large debts from their partner and although the debt is upsetting it is often the deceit that causes the biggest problem.
“Whilst talking about money can be tricky, hiding debt can cause a lot of damage to the relationship in the long-run as well as people’s ability to deal with debt. Counselling can help couples to talk more openly about money and tackle any problems together.”
People ‘over-indebted’ in the survey were defined as those likely to find meeting monthly bills a heavy burden and those missing more than two bill payments within a six-month period.
Relate Bedfordshire and Luton has issued tips on how to adopt a more open and shared approach to finances:
- Talk to your partner about your attitudes towards money and debt and what you think has influenced them. Greater understanding will lead to fewer arguments.
- If you’re hiding debt from your partner unless you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s usually best to come clean. Pick a quiet time with no distractions, accept responsibility and explain you want to be open and honest about money from now on.
- Put together a plan outlining how you’ll manage paying off debt together and work out a monthly budget. It will help you to feel in control again and that you’re tackling the problem as a team.
- Check in regularly with your partner about finances. Couples who make financial decisions together are less likely to have issues.
- If you’re arguing more often than not, it’s worth seeking relationship support.
- Do seek support on the financial side of things from an organisation such as Money Advice Service (moneyadvice.org.uk) so you can begin to tackle the debt together.
If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors about how debt is affecting your relationship give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.