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Introduction   ::   Your History   ::   Debt  ::   Expectations   ::   Budget   ::   Credit   ::   Money   ::   Resources

Debt in Marriage

"Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant."
- P.T. Barnum

Discussion: Debt Has a Negative Impact on Marriage

We have known for years that financial decision-making can create stress in marriages. More recently, research has shown that debt brought into marriage and debt that occurs after marriage is an important part of that stress. It makes sense that worrying about owing people money would cause problems for married couples.

When we think about debt brought into marriage, there is not only the worrying about owing people money, but there can also be blame associated with the debt if you or your partner brought significant debt into the marriage. One partner may resent having the other person's bills keeping them from purchasing a home, adding a child to the family, or having enough money for a special date now and then.

There are several things we know to be true for couples when it comes to debt and the marriage relationship.

  • When couples spend time and energy worrying about debt, they have less time to spend on their couple and family relationships.
  • David Olson found that couples with debt are less satisfied in their marriage, and couples who have no major debt problems are happier in their marriage.
  • Newly married couples in Utah who brought debt into their marriage were less happy than those who brought little or no debt into their marriage (Schramm & Lee).
  • Automobile and credit card debt brought into marriage were more likely to have a negative impact on marriage than school loan debt (Schramm & Lee). It appears that debt that is an investment in the future is less likely to have a negative impact on marriage than debt that is not viewed as an investment.

It is important to develop a plan to reduce debt before marriage, since it will help couples get off to a good start in the first years of married life. It is also important to keep debt to a minimum within marriage.

For Those Who Are Planning to Marry:

Most couples do not want to talk about how much debt they have while they are in the throws of wedding and honeymoon planning. Couples do not want to bring up things that will take away from the romance of the wedding itself, and most would agree that talking about money is not very romantic.

Couples should begin to talk about the debt they have and agree on ways to manage or reduce it before the wedding. It is best to begin this discussion several months or a year before marriage. This will give the couple time to implement a plan and reduce or eliminate the debt before the wedding takes place.

For Those Who Are Already Married:

If you are married and experiencing stress over debt, it is not too late to start to eliminate and reduce debt. Because debt can accumulate any time during marriage, having skills to reduce debt will be useful anytime during marriage.


Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 28). Finances. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License