How to Address Your Secret Debt With Your Partner
In this week’s episode of Money Confidential, host Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez talks with a woman who is keeping her credit card debt a secret from her boyfriend.
Real Simple's new podcast Money Confidential is all about real, open conversations surrounding money in order to ditch some of the financial guilt and shame so many people feel. On this week's episode, host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez addresses the concerns of Sophia, a woman who is hiding her credit card debt from her boyfriend. (Sophia is not her real name.)
The London-based Sophia has struggled with credit card debt since she was at university. At first, she had a very low credit limit—but as she earned more money over the years, that credit limit grew, and her spending grew with it until she was carrying a large amount of debt. She kept her credit card debt—and her guilt and shame surrounding it—to herself until she and her boyfriend began talking about purchasing a house together. Finally, she confessed to her debt and its impact on her credit score, and they reached an arrangement where her boyfriend paid off her debt in full and she paid him back. Sophia found paying her boyfriend back to be easy, and repaid the full sum within a few months.
Now, a few years later, Sophia has accumulated a large amount of credit card debt again—and is worried about approaching her boyfriend about it, particularly when he already helped her with her debt once and she said it would not happen again. Instead, though they have purchased a home together, they keep their spending habits to themselves and stick to talking about bills and shared expenses.
To help Sophia find the courage to open up to her boyfriend about her debt and establish a better relationship with talking about money for both of them, O'Connell Rodriguez turns to Brad Klontz, Psy.D., CFP, an expert in financial psychology and financial planning.
"Money is the number one thing couples fight about, especially early on," Klontz says. Everyone has a different background and relationship with money, but the key to a financially equitable relationship is communicating openly and clearly about money—and fighting the urge to commit financial infidelity by keeping secrets about your spending. When you make money a regular topic of conversation with your partner, Klontz says, you both strengthen your bond and gain support with whatever you might be struggling with financially.
Listen to this week's Money Confidential—"Is it OK to keep money secrets from my partner?"—for Klontz and O'Connell Rodriguez's tips for breaking the habit of financial infidelity, managing disagreements about money, and fixing your relationship's relationship with finances, to the benefit of all involved.