The funny thing about marriage is that you are in a financial partnership. If you worked hard in college to come out with no student loans, then congratulations!! Then all of a sudden you heart starts to beat a little faster for someone else. You date a while start to think about a future with them, and you ignore their student loans, credit card debt, and car payments. After all, you can teach this person to be better, and you can help them to get out of debt. The problem is that when you do such a thing called “love”, then you are making other people’s problems, your problems. As a society lately we tend you do this a lot.
I have noticed that making other peoples problems our problems is quite common among parents. There is a crazy notion that every parent thinks that they are the best parent around. They can tell everyone else all the problems others have, but they are perfect. The same goes for finances. You can point out the small blemish in someone else’s portfolio, but you don’t notice the massive fees, poor diversification, and overall stupidity in your collection of accounts. So, what I have found is that when a person marries a debt filled individual they can’t complain about the others debt issues because you made it your problem. You signed up for the trip and now you have to finish it. Maybe the problem is that you were not good at picking a financially savvy partner. You can’t blame others or complain to others about the person you married. Again, you knew the problems to begin with and chose that path in life.
So what do you do now that you have accepted your lot in life? You have to help build your future together with a plan together. You must both step up and work together to see how your future looks. Do you want to travel? Do they want a big house? Do you want five kids and a dog? Do they want two kids and a fish? You have to both find out what creates the most happiness for your life plan, and then build a plan to meet those goals. I wanted a kid friendly job, so I can be with my family as much as I can. I also wanted to retire early, and travel the world. Being a teacher met those goals. My wife was unsure on these things, but loved the idea of me being around more and traveling. She also wanted five kids and we settled on three, which was the perfect number for our goals. We have sat down numerous times to plan our lives together and review how our life plan is going so far. The most important part of this is you have to have a plan together to be successful.
Now that we have a plan, we can get to that debt issue that is probably harming your goals or your relationship. When you have a goal and realized that debt and spending habits are causing the dream of attaining that goal to die, you are highly motivated to make changes in your life. You begin to debt snowball together, cut bills together, and as Dave Ramsey talks about, you get the “gazelle like focus.” It becomes fun to work as a true partnership and changing one another for a common goal. You will hardly notice the changes because you will do it for the goal and it doesn’t ever feel forced. You start to pass up on $2 burgers on your way home, and stop shopping online because it doesn’t help the goal. You aren’t changing because another person is telling you, it is all for the goal and life plan you both have and want to achieve.
Without the goal setting and life planning together, your marriage will not make it in the long haul. You will become two people parenting each other and yelling instead of a super team of debt crushing goal attaining life style building awesomeness. It’s fine to marry someone who does have debt, but you must be on the same page for your life plan and debt management. You have to share the same common goals and you have to really work as a true partnership. So, marry for love, and because you have fun and want to build a life with the love of your life. Debt is dumb, but it doesn’t have to be a red flag if you have a good talk about your life together.