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Could debt destroy your marriage?

Money can't buy happiness -- but it certainly does resolve a lot of problems and can make it easier to enjoy life with your spouse.

According to a recent study out of Utah State University, arguments over money often lead to divorce -- especially when the arguments focus on household debts.

Over half of all marriages start out with a lot of debt. The student loan crisis isn't likely to change that situation soon. Financial troubles involving debt can end up creating more personal problems for about 40 percent of marriages.

In general, marital debt leads to deep conflicts between couples, which erupt into fights or stall communication. Often, couples can't even agree on who is responsible for all the debt. Nearly half of people struggling with marital debt argue with their spouses over who brought on the burden.

All of that fighting about debt leads to a lot of divorces. Around 30 percent of divorcing couples cite debt and arguments over money as among the top reasons that a couple ends up in a divorce attorney's office. A lot of the stress comes from a sense of betrayal (when spouses blame each other for the debt) and a fear of the unknown (worrying about how to pay off the debt).

So, what can you do to prevent debt from destroying your marital bliss? Here are some suggestions:

  • Think small. Skip the big wedding and start your marriage off right.
  • Live on a budget. Learn to make do with what you have as much as possible. Prioritize your wants and needs.
  • Put away the credit cards. You can't get your debt under control until you stop spending.
  • Talk to each other about finances and expectations. If necessary, get a therapist to help you do it.
  • Consider bankruptcy. If you're already in insurmountable debt, it may be necessary to move forward.

Sometimes, all the advice in the world can't help a couple work together. If your goals aren't aligned and your value system isn't the same, you may still eventually still end up seeking a divorce from your spouse. If that happens, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights.

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