Do debt and marriage really go hand in hand? Well, it all depends on how you set up the foundation of your marriage from the very beginning. Unfortunately we don’t have nearly the amount of discussion that we should have about personal finance in this country. We talk about how you should meet and marry someone that has your common interests, and we talk about the need to openly communicate about the big things that you want in life. However, far too many people just assume that these things are going to line up on their own and there’s really no need to really think about them too much. So when debt creeps into a marriage it can really make things pretty difficult. There’s a feeling of not being able to get things done because there is too much debt. In fact, if you really looked at the top reasons why people get divorces in this country, you would find that financial troubles are at the top of the list. When one person wants to spend and the other person wants to save, things can really get sticky.

You don’t have to let your marriage end over debt troubles. What is done is done, and there’s no need to play the blame game. If you’re going to see yourself and your spouse as a true couple, then you’re in this together. It is not just the spouse’s debt, or your debt — it’s the debts of two people that really make a difference. You must always take the time to step back and forgive each other before you can work on the debt.

It’s okay to be upset, worried, or even scared for the future. You have to come clean with these emotions to grow and move further. However, if you devolve into shouting and name calling, you will only push your family further and further behind.

Break out of that cycle by accepting what has happened, and then sit down to create a plan of action. You must make sure that you’re actually looking at all of your debts as well as your monthly budget. You want to look at the hard numbers because numbers aren’t emotional. They are simply what they are, and numbers don’t lie. Don’t be surprised if you have more debt than you expected, or less than you expected. When it comes to debt, people tend to simply guess at how much they owe, which can change the numbers a great deal. If you want to pursue any professional debt assistance in the future, you will need to have these numbers. While we’re on the subject of debt, this would be a great time to make sure that your financial paperwork is in order. You want to have a neat and orderly file cabinet for several reasons. For one, you will be working to clear your debts as soon as possible, which also means making sure that you’re able to actually find account numbers at a glance. You can even store this information on your computer, but we do recommend that you do have it secured. If anyone were to invade your computer you would have a hard time protecting that information, which could be dangerous in the wrong hands!

Let’s go back to your budget. You will need to make absolutely sure that your budget has the essentials, but after that you will need to shift away from entertainment. That’s not to say that you can never do anything fun. A lot of cities and towns have plenty of free activities that get ignored because people have the Internet, television, and movie rentals to keep them company. If that doesn’t work there are expensive restaurants to look forward to and the movie theater always calls. If you are truly ready to get out of debt, you will need to put these high dollar activities on hold. A lot of people think that they don’t spend that much on entertainment, but they’re actually mistaken. How many times have you just taken a drive to get out of the house and stopped by a fast food place on your way back home? Probably more often than you might think. Some people even keep an expense diary to keep track of their day to day spending. If you are a fan of journaling, then this is definitely a good idea.

Everyone in the family needs to be on board when it comes to getting rid of debt. You don’t want to be gung ho about getting out of debt and find that your spouse really doesn’t care about it. You also want to make sure that your children are okay with the idea of tightening things down as well. If you don’t include your children in the discussion about debt, they’re going to feel, like you’re hiding something from them. If they feel like that, then they’re going to leap to the assumption that what you’re hiding from them really is their fault, which will not end well for you. It’s a lot smarter in the long run to make sure that you actually come clean with them and let them know that it’s nothing they did, but the family has debt right now.

It can take a lot of strength to go through this instead of just going through with the divorce. However, as your family emerges from the dark clouds of debt, you’ll find a few changes are afoot. You’ll find that your family is stronger as a whole. Your spouse will emerge having a better grasp of personal finance, which makes it a lot less likely that you’ll get into debt again.

It’s important to also look at whether or not you really need to consider debt assistance measures like debt consolidation. After all, why would you want to pay the minimum amount due on your debts, only to find that all you’re really paying is interest? No one wants to find that they’re working so hard essentially to provide profit for a credit card company, but that’s what a lot of people are actually doing right now.

Break out of this cycle by following the tips and strategies in this guide, and you’ll be on your way to a debt-free life soon enough!