Everything’s perfect. You’re engaged to the love of your life. The wedding planning is going great. You can’t wait to call your sweetheart your spouse.
Except there’s one tiny problem: Your sweetheart comes with a pile of consumer debt.
If you’re debt-free or well on your way, the thought of marrying someone with a bunch of debt can be a little scary! So what do you do?
Well, before you do anything, take a deep breath. Then think through a few things very carefully. Here’s a breakdown:
Consider Your Beloved’s Attitude
Debt isn’t a deal breaker. Yes, you read that right! You don’t have to call off or postpone your wedding to someone who has debt. What matters more is your betrothed’s attitude toward it. Are they motivated to pay it off and actively working toward that? Or maybe they want to, but they don’t know how.
That’s okay! As long as the desire’s there, you can show them the ropes. In that case, ring those wedding bells! You know that you’re on the same page about money, and you’ll get through it together.
But watch out for a red flag: If your beloved is just fine staying in debt. That’s reason to postpone or cancel the wedding. If they don’t take control of their lives, have no character, and can’t manage their own behaviors, that will never change—and you won’t be able to fix them. They’ll never get out of debt, and they’ll drag you down with them.
They’re not marriage material.
Statistics show that the number one cause of divorce is money fights and money problems. Keep that in mind as you work through this.
If you want to make it work, consider going as a couple to a pre-marriage counselor and a financial coach so you can talk through your problems. That’s a great idea anyway, since there’s safety in wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14). Hopefully these experts can help you get on the same page. If nothing else, they’ll confirm that this future marriage won’t work, and you can save yourself heartache and headaches by backing out before you say “I do.”
Keep Your Finances Separate Pre-Marriage
If you know your future spouse is determined to pay off their debt, that’s a great start. But don’t be tempted to rush out and pay toward their debt for them. Nope, stop right there. Until you get married, there’s no “ours” when it comes to money. It’s “mine” and “yours.”
Mixing finances before marriage is a great way to mess up your relationship. If it goes sour during the engagement period (and it happens all the time!), you’ll never see that money again. We don’t want to be pessimistic, but we do want to be wise. No matter how much you love your sweetie, just don’t pay toward their debts until you’re Mr. and Mrs. But you should be their biggest cheerleader as they pay down their own debt!
What You Need to Do Now
The person with debt needs to clean up as much as possible before the wedding day. That demonstrates that they’re committed to bringing as little debt into the marriage as possible. It says: “I think so much of you, I love you so deeply, and I care so passionately about our future that I’m going to sacrifice things I care about for the good of us as a couple.” That’s the type of spouse the Bible describes as ideal (Proverbs 31:10–11).
Then, you need to be committed and willing to work together to pay off whatever’s left after the wedding. After all, the preacher said, “And now you are one.” That means you combine your lives—and that includes debt.
If you’ve entered into a healthy marriage with common goals and the same views on money, then you should just view it as an exciting adventure—your first of many as a married couple.