8 Ways to Prepare to Confess Your Debt
You’ve had a conversation with yourself about your debt problem, but your conscience now nags you to tell your partner, too. As much as you want to be honest and fair, you are paralyzed at the thought of just how wrong it could go. The truth is, the longer you wait the harsher the impact may be. On the flipside, if you confess your debt in proper timing, your relationship can move forward sooner.
So, plan a time to bite the bullet and prepare for it by heeding the following expert advice.
Schedule Your Confession
It may not be a great idea to pencil in “confession” on your calendar, but you should consult your partner as to when they’d have some free time to talk. Simply saying, “I have something I want to talk to you about,” is enough to help them brace themselves emotionally for what is coming. This is a much fairer way to go about it than dropping the bomb in the middle of an everyday conversation. It will likely yield better results as well.
Get to the Point
You may feel the need to give a long introduction into the topic you’ll be addressing with your partner. However, Amy Bishop, who conducts Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling, advises cutting to the chase. A vague explanation often backfires and causes partners to fear what may come next. This builds up their defensiveness. The best route is to be straightforward.
Terry Gaspard, a marriage counselor and relationship expert places great importance on transparency both during and following a confession of debt. Partners should flesh out the present and the past. It may help to offer to share financial statements, and later on provide proof that efforts are being made to remedy the situation.
Respect Feelings of Betrayal
Hidden debt, like any mistake, can feel embarrassing to admit. Understandably you may want to place the blame elsewhere, discourage your partner from overreacting or pressure them to move past the transgression too quickly. Instead, Gaspard, along with many other experts recommends first owning your mistake and next giving your partner the space they need to work through their feelings which may include betrayal. This in combination with these remaining tips will encourage healing and help rebuild the trust needed to move on.
Present a Debt Payoff Plan
After confessing your debt, it’s possible your partner will ask if you’ve thought about a solution. It’s important you are prepared to discuss possibilities you’ve researched ahead of time. Your partner will feel more reassured if your plan details how you will change your spending behaviors and establishes your accountability, according to Gaspard.
You may even want to take it a step further by creating a visual of a repayment schedule for your debt. Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist of 30 years and author encourages, “if you are overwhelmed and can’t do it yourself, consider calling a non-profit credit counseling organization to help you draw up a plan. They can often get you a reduced debt.”
If your partner would prefer to be involved in deciding the solution, you can always suggest the two of you have a free consultation following your discussion. It offers them the opportunity to ask a third party questions that may be weighing on their mind.
Make and Keep Simple Promises
Once you’ve decided how to pay off your debt, you can establish some attainable personal goals with your partner. For example, commit to refraining from credit card use for the coming week, or longer if you can. If you truly struggle with discipline, it may be motivating to have your partner monitor your transactions for an agreed upon amount of time.
Tessina reasons that as you make and keep simple promises, you give your partner evidence of your trustworthiness. Your deeds will weigh more than your words and may get your relationship back on track quicker.
If after your confession, the damage feels overwhelming to both parties, couples counseling can supply effective tools to facilitate productive conversations. A counselor can help a couple move toward a common goal all while addressing the issues of each individual party; issues that are sometimes underlying and difficult to recognize.
It might be tempting to seek a close friend or family member to act as coach and referee, but in most cases when it comes to a relationship, a professional who is equipped with an education and sworn to confidentiality is best.
Give Your Relationship Time to Recover
Some partners get anxious and antsy when their relationship has hit a rough patch. They want to move on and get back to the good days. When it comes to overcoming hidden debt, however, you must allow time for recovery. Keeping this in mind, it may be helpful to delay any relationship milestones such as getting engaged says Tessina.
Admitting debt does not promise to be a quick or painless process, but it is the right thing to do. No matter your partner’s reaction, they are sure to appreciate in time that you could have tried to take the easy way out and didn’t. Have the courage to confess and mark that as the day you decided to make forward progress by setting down a weight that had become too heavy to keep carrying.
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