Of all the things that may eventually lead to divorce, most people probably never expected their student loans to be on the list.
However, that’s exactly what seems to be happening. Of the divorced borrowers surveyed for a recent report, 13 percent say the debt from their student loans took an emotional and financial toll on their marriage, eventually leading to divorce.
The news probably doesn’t come as a surprise to those living with massive student debt hanging over their heads. Student debt has been cited as an underlying cause of many societal changes in recent years, including the fact that many millennials aren’t buying homes or having children.
Altogether, there are about 44 million people trying to shoulder about $1.5 trillion in student loans — and that figure is climbing. The average college graduate has more than $39,000 in student loans and is faced with the prospect of trying to find a job that will enable them to live and also pay back their loans. When you consider the fact that two college graduates who marry may have close to $80,000 in debt from student loans alone, it gets obvious how that could put a lot of pressure on a new marriage.
Heavy debts of any kind also influence other choices that borrowers end up making — which can also lead to marital conflict. One borrower may want to go ahead and have children while his or her spouse doesn’t like the idea of taking on additional burdens. The student debt can also make it difficult to find affordable housing. That could put couples in the position of having to live with others — which may also affect their relationship.
Financial woes have always been a factor in divorce. Before student loan debt becomes a destructive force in your marriage, it’s important to discuss how you plan to cope with the issue. Above all, don’t try to hide your debt from your partner. That’s a mistake that’s bound to lead to resentment and distrust in the long run.