The stress when debt and relationships collide

posted by in Living with debt

At the root of much of the stresses of modern life are two things: money and relationships. When these go wrong, the consequences can be disastrous.

Our client Trudy is a single mum who fell into unmanageable debt a couple of years ago. She initially went with a fee-charging debt management company before speaking to us. She now sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s not the end of the world.”

– Trudy

Her problems – and those of many people we speak with – were in part caused by a breakdown of a relationship, and it nearly cost her her life.

Her experiences touch on three areas of money and relationships that cause untold stress.

1. Women are twice as likely as men to be in debt due to divorce or separation

Women, men, separation and divorce

Women twice as likely to be in debt after separation

We’ve found that divorce and separation weighs heavily on women. As this graphic shows, the proportion of women who encounter financial difficulty due to separation or divorce is almost double that of men (12.5% compared to 6.8%).

And as the woman is more likely to be the one “left holding the baby” the stress of the debt can be immense.

2. One in four clients struggled with their debts alone

One in four dealt with debts alone

One in four dealt with debts alone

Even when a relationship is strong it’s still difficult to talk about money. As the above graphic shows, 25% of people suffer alone, unable to talk with anyone about their debts. This can be through being single (like Trudy), or being afraid of what the truth will do to the relationship.

An interesting example of this is the number of DMP clients who don’t receive our monthly newsletter. Tens of thousands don’t receive our emails because they’ve indicated that their partner is unaware of their predicament and want to keep it secret from them. While this number has fallen in recent years there is still a large minority of our clients who keep their debt problem quiet.

Keeping debts from loved ones heightens stress levels even further, multiplying mental health issues.

3. Almost half of debtors wait more than a year after realising their debts are a problem before seeking professional debt help

Nearly half of debtors waited a year

Nearly half of debtors waited a year

Finally, there’s the stress over the delay in searching for debt help. As we’ve talked about before, 45% of clients waited over a year before seeking debt help.

That meant that they suffered for a year or more, racking up interest and charges, before they contacted a debt organisation.

Again, this impacts negatively on mental health.

4. We were contacted by over 350,000 people in 2011

We were contacted by over 350,000 people last year

We were contacted by over 350,000 people in 2011

The important outcome was this: We were contacted by over 350,000 people last year, of which Trudy was one. These people were living under the stress of debt, some of them made worse by the stress of relationship breakdown, keeping quiet, or brushing the issue under the carpet.

We can help you if you have a debt problem, and by doing this we can help relieve some of the stress associated. If you don’t want to talk with anyone, use our online advice service Debt Remedy. After you finish Debt Remedy you can to use our Wellbeing tool, to help you assess the current state of your mental health.

Don’t let stress worsen your existing debt problem. We helped Trudy and over 350,000 others last year. We can help you.

Peer’s the digital content manager at StepChange Debt Charity. Apart from contributing to the MoneyAware blog and overseeing the charity’s website and social media content, he’s walked to the top of every mountain and hill in the Lake District. Twice.

Written by

Tags Living with debt