We’ve all made mistakes when it comes to love. It’s like the old saying, “you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” But when it comes to combining love and money, women can wind up paying twice for a relationship that goes sour.
Research has shown that women are earning more today than ever before. In the western world, mostly Australia and U.S.A, 38% of wives now out-earn their husbands and 40% of American households with families have a woman who is the family breadwinner. It is a similar case in Australia.
If you move in with your partner and take on debt together, be warned: he may leave you responsible for the entire sum! Financial experts call this “sexually transmitted debt.” It’s certainly something no woman wants to think about in that soft, warm glow at the start of a romance where no one argues about whose turn it is to do the dishes. But if you are creating a life together there is a chance you could wind up accumulating some type of debt as a couple.
Your biggest concern is if he is unable to pay the debt. Now, if you think about it, generations ago this is something that men dealt with when marrying women – taking on debt together and simply assuming that the woman would not be able to help pay it off with them. But today’s woman has become financially independent and is able to manage her own finances, at times better than her male partner can. Banks and financial institutions have finally become savvy to this simple practical fact. Whereas they would go after the man for the unpaid debt, now they realise they have a better chance of targeting the woman in the couple.
This doesn’t mean you avoid taking on any debt together, but I recommend that you sit down and have a frank discussion before doing so. Have a real “what if” type of conversation, considering what would happen if either of you lost your jobs, broke up or something happens to one of you. Be aware of the possibilities that could happen and come up with a valid plan how you would resolve that situation. Explore the worst-case scenario together to that if it ever came to that you would have some sense of your next course of action.
Trust your gut when you talk to your partner, and realise that sometimes the best option is not to take on the debt but to honestly re-assess your relationship. It is a simple fact that married couples and romantic partners fight more about money and intimacy than anything else. My advice is if you know now, don’t let money be a reason you lose your partner over.
If he does leave you to pay a debt, then you may be in a vulnerable situation. It may have been a debt you could comfortably pay as a couple but is now too much for you to pay on your own. You may be furious at what he has done, and want to refuse to pay on principle because of his actions. If this happens you may need to seek legal advice to help obtain his assistance paying the debt. From the bank or lending institution’s point of view – you are legally responsible for the debt if he is unable to pay. So, they are happy to accept your money and quite likely will not pursue him further.
That’s something to consider before combining your lives. It’s well worth having honest conversations about finances… trust me…