Conversations about money tend to be taboo in American society. You’re not supposed to discuss salaries with co-workers. You shouldn’t ask friends what they paid for their house or their car and — above all — you shouldn’t admit to having money problems.
However, all of the above are fallacies.
These are perfectly reasonable conversations to have with people, in the proper context. This is particularly true when it comes to telling your sweetheart you’re in financial trouble.
Timing Is Key
Is this a topic you want to broach on your first date? If we’re keeping it real here — no — that’s a very bad idea. Give them a chance to get to know your positive attributes before you unfurl your negatives. In other words, let the relationship blossom a bit.
Everybody has something about themselves they hope nobody ever discovers, so you don’t need to feel bad about it. As things progress and you get closer, particularly if it gets to the point at which you’re considering sharing a home, then it will be time to disclose that information.
Context Is Important Too
The proper moment will generally reveal itself, although in a lot of cases the way you’ve acted will probably have already telegraphed your situation. If you’re always suggesting dates with minimal expense attached such as hikes, cooking at home, streaming movies and the like, they’re going to get a clue.
When you do finally get around to disclosing the problem; they will probably have already had some suspicion.
Still, it’s important to broach the subject at an opportune moment. Every relationship hits a point at which you have long conversations — often into the night — in which vulnerabilities are revealed. That’s going to be your best opportunity to approach the topic.
If you’re sitting on a huge pile of debt, explain how it happened and what you’re doing to deal with it. If you’re working with an organization like Freedom Debt Relief to settle your obligations, let them know you’re following a plan and when it will be cleared up.
The key is to be open and honest about the situation — and willing to show them documentation if they want to look at it. These days, obligations such as student loan debt are fairly ubiquitous. They may have had a similar problem and can suggest ways you may have yet to consider to help you get out of it.
Be Patient and Answer Their Questions
If the roles were reversed and someone with whom you were considering spending the rest of your life made such a disclosure, how would you respond? Of course, it’s an uncomfortable situation and naturally you’re going to feel exposed. However, defensiveness is the worst possible behavior you could display at that point.
They have a right to know what they’re signing up for with you. If your wages are being garnished, you have to tell them. If creditors are hounding you, it’s a good idea to apprise them of that as well. It isn’t right to ask someone to go blindly into a situation of that nature.
Further, when you live together, those things will quickly become apparent. It’s way better for the information to have come from your mouth than be revealed by circumstance.
So yes, telling your sweetheart you’re in financial trouble could be a make or break moment for your relationship. But handled properly, you will likely be able to weather it. Lying or evasion will only lead to bigger problems down the line.
This is a contributed guest post.