Couples serious about each other want to know everything about their potential partner’s past, including their sexual history, history of sexually transmitted diseases, past relationships, spending habits, and “yes” credit scores. “A poor credit rating can be a deal breaker in a marriage” states Jessica Silver-Greenberg. Planning a life together means knowing everything about one’s potential life partner. Jessica LaShawn said she was surprised when a date asked about her credit score. “It was as if the music stopped,” she said. Marriage is a life partnership and it is important to go into it with one’s eyes open. Student loans as well as other debt may have a perfectly logical explanation but needs to be discussed with your potential spouse who may be able to help you in a plan to pay off your debt. You may decide, for example, to have a smaller wedding or delay the honeymoon until some of the debt is paid off. In fact, knowing that someone cares enough can strengthen the relationship.

The article goes on to state that “Dating someone with poor credit can have real implications. Banks remain wary of making loans to borrowers with tarnished scores.”*

Cindy, age 29, was finishing law school and had accumulated 15 thousand dollars in credit card debt. While nine thousand was from student loans, six thousand was due to on line shopping used to help alleviate depression. Michael, age 32, a successful executive in the financial world, understandably felt concern about Cindy’s spending habits. While he was willing to help her pay off her debt, he was frightened by what he perceived to be reckless spending habits. Cindy felt mortified by Michael’s criticism of her.

One of the tenet’s of a good marriage is the ability to share concerns and feelings with each other in an open and constructive way and to trust that our partner will be able to listen. When Cindy and Michael began couple’s therapy they were unable to hear each other, and tended to tear each other down. Coming for couple’s therapy was a desperate attempt to save the relationship. When Cindy realized that Michael really cared and that he wanted to help her, her defensiveness began to diminish. In fact, she was relieved to have everything out in the open. She too wanted to pay off her debt and to go into the marriage with a clean slate.

*New York Times 12/26/2012 *A1, B2

Dianne Heller Kaminsky, LCSW, BCD

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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