According to a study from Student Loan Hero, student loan debts seem to be particularly toxic to marriages. Money trouble was generally cited as a contributing factor in a third of all divorces — while student loans were specifically blamed by one out of eight divorced borrowers.
Why are student loans so stressful? That’s probably because the cost of an education has spiraled past the rewards. While many people still see a college degree as critical to a young person’s success, the debt young people have to take on to get that degree can be staggering. Right now, the average student loan balance is $34,000, and the number of people with student loans topping $50,000 has tripled in the last 10 years. When two people with student loans marry, that’s double the debt and double the stress.
With that kind of debt, couples often have to push off big decisions and other important life goals — like buying a home and having children. If a couple’s goals aren’t in sync, that can spell big trouble. For example, if one half of a couple wants to start a family and feels like the time to do so is passing by but the other half feels like the student loans have to be paid off before he or she can commit to anything else, there can be insurmountable conflicts.
Prenups are a good way to prevent worries that you might be saddled with your bride’s or groom’s debts, but they won’t solve all the problems that come along with having that debt hanging over your lives. Sometimes, the debts may force couples to confront the fact that their goals and values don’t exactly line up.
If you think that it might be time to talk to your spouse about divorce, consider talking to an attorney first. It might help you organize your thoughts and develop a plan for the future.