An in-depth study by marriage guidance service Relate has highlighted the links between debt and relationship problems.

It reveals that 14% of UK adults who have been in debt have at some stage hidden their debt problems from their partner. 7% say they are currently concealing their debt issues in this way.

Of those that concealed their debts, 51% said that they hid their debt problems simply because they were embarrassed about their predicament. 46% said they were worried about how their partner would react to the news, and 34% were worried about conflicts resulting from the two partners having different approaches to money.

For its study, Relate gathered responses from almost 5,000 people. 16% of respondents said that they had a debt problem, equivalent to 8.3 million people when applied to the entire UK adult population.

Relate of course is a marriage guidance service, and the study highlighted that 20% of the respondents who were in financial difficulty had experienced the breakdown of a relationship where debt problems were a contributing factor. 38% said that debt issues had damaged their relationship in some way, 25% said they argued with their partner about financial issues at least once a fortnight, and 9% said they even argued with their children about money on a weekly basis.

Relate is calling for the government to provide free relationship counselling for people who experience problems with debt.

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at Relate said:

“Debt is a distressing thing for anyone to go through and your relationship can play an important part in how you deal with it. Talking about debt can be difficult, especially if you feel ashamed or have different approaches to money, but keeping things under wraps can be problematic for the relationship and make the debt harder to manage.

“With 8.3 million UK adults currently in problem debt and so many reporting a negative impact on their relationship, there’s a clear need for support. The reality is that families in problem debt can’t afford counselling, which is why we’re calling on the government to fund free relationship support for them. Our report also highlights strong support on both sides for debt advisors and relationship counsellors to explore more joined-up ways of working.”

Debt problems can of course be linked to mental health issues as well, and charity Mental Health UK has launched a new debt advice service for people who are experiencing both money and mental health problems. The charity estimates that four million people are affected by both of these issues, and that a further four million are in financial difficulty and are at risk of having a mental health issue as a result.

Brian Dow, managing director of Mental Health UK, said:

“Money problems and mental health issues like anxiety and depression can create a vicious cycle where problems can spiral. At its worst this can lead to debt, family breakdown and even homelessness.

“This is why we are launching this first-of-its-kind service – to provide some of the eight million people who are affected with somewhere to turn to… This new service will be able to help someone with schizophrenia who needs support managing their money and accessing welfare benefits, and someone struggling to pay their debts and bills whose mental health is deteriorating as a result.”

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