Question: My partner and I have been having financial problems, putting an enormous amount of stress on our relationship. So much so, that I think we are in danger of breaking up. Unexpectedly, I was just fired from my job. Should I tell my partner?
Answer: The short answer: absolutely. I understand your reluctancy if stress and tension are at their peaks but if your partner finds out that you’ve been keeping a secret from them, it introduces an issue of trust into the relationship which further complicates things. Keeping a secret of this magnitude will have a deep effect on your relationship and you, specifically. Even if your partner doesn’t find out, the guilt of carrying such a burden will likely have many negative effects on your emotional and mental health, which won’t contribute positively to existing issues.
However, what you might want to consider when discussing this with your partner is the timing. Hurtful and irreparable things are often said in heated discussions or moments of distress. Try to find a neutral time where you can discuss these issues with your partner and he or she is prepared to listen and hear you out. In the short term, what’s most important is reconnecting on the basic level because it sounds like somewhere you’ve gotten off track with your commitment to each other and your ability to solve your problems together. Whatever you do, don’t feel bad – it happens to the best couples. Have a calm, honest, respectful conversation about the relationship and where it’s headed. You might need to renew or confirm your willingness to work on your issues and save your relationship.
The reality is that finances are tough and are a common cause of problems in many relationships. People manage finances differently and sometimes have different priorities. It could also be an issue of pure math if there isn’t enough money to handle your obligations. It’s not going to be an easy road either way but it will be vital to first reconnect and get on the same page about your future together. The financial problems might seem insurmountable but you will have to jump one hurdle at a time as a team in your relationship.
Generally, start with sharing your experience about your job because if possible, the support from your partner will be essential to your personal recovery from an unexpected change. You’re in for some honest prioritization and increased needs to put your pride to the side if you need to make lifestyle changes or reach out to family or friends. If possible, a counselor or therapist as well as a financial planner could be of great help. Check with your city or county government for low or no-cost referrals. Work together to find the best long-term solution(s), keep communicating and hang in there.
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