Sinking FICO Nuked by Spendthrift Spouse
I am writing about this subject not because I want to or like to talk about money and its effect upon relationships. No, I am writing about this because the effect of finances on relationships pervades our lives. The subject can be taboo because of the stress it causes. Resentments are often repressed or buried only to resurface in an uglier way at another time. A sinking FICO seems to be the largest single contributing factor to divorce or unhappiness in relationships. It frequently grows from a minor irritation into a cancer that infects the whole relationship. Like the proverbial black hole, the money monster never lets you go once it has you in its grip. Not even light can escape when there is a case of a sinking FICO nuked by spendthrift spouse.
Candid Discussion about that Sinking FICO
I can’t stress too much that the earlier in a relationship a candid discussion of financial matters is held the better the prognosis for the relationship is going to be. Dramatic differences in philosophy regarding money matters have to be aired out because it seems that our attitudes about financial matters are set at an early age. It’s possible to be blinded about an irresponsible attitude about money matters by another by love. (Don’t ask).
But it’s different with you, right? You are so much in love that you can work out these mere material matters later in the relationship. After all, your spouse is “trainable.” A problem with alcohol, drugs, gambling or cheating might be a deal killer, but this money thing isn’t really so serious. Right? Are you trying to convince me or yourself? It’s not a fun job being the relationship’s “bad cop” in financial matters.
Serious Relationships Become Financial Partnerships
A serious relationship involves a partnership in matters of emotion and finance as well as in a physical way. Spending addictions like other forms of addiction grow from mere annoyances into worse habits from which control takes a leave of absence. Designer clothes multiply. The boat is never big enough. Credit cards that are constantly being maxed out over frivolous purposes morph into overdrafts, drained savings and even altered checks. Food budgets and utility bills won’t wait and the responsible one in the relationship is soon trying to rescue the situation by doling out money to the other in dribs and drabs. Now the irresponsible one is screaming that they won’t be treated like a child but their promises of reform grow thinner and less credible as time goes by. What to do? Is there hope?
- Counseling: This is the best answer in the few cases where the one with the problem recognizes it and wants to change. You can find free counseling and support groups on the internet. Being willing to do this is rare but indicative of true hope for the situation.
- Intervention: Is it possible that their parents, siblings or close friends would help you with this? Sounds like a long shot but is definitely worth a try in the right circumstances.
- Tough Love: You know in your heart this is necessary but you also know life will be hell, at least for a while. This means no joint accounts, no joint credit cards, no joint assets of any kind. Maybe a prepaid card will salve the injured pride and make the situation bearable. You may be stuck in this regard when it comes to your home but you will have to live with that in most cases. This means no bail outs. Make budgeting a game and include the children if you have them. It’s good for them to see if you want this you can’t have that. It’s also good for them to see that not that much is left over after you deduct what you must really have.
Surveys show that less than half of couples keep their finances separate. Be realistic. If any of the above made you cringe separate finances are the way to go.