We got into emergency debt, and now we can’t stop fighting

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  • For Love & Money is Insider’s bi-weekly column that answers your questions about relationships and money.
  • This week, a reader asks if going into emergency debt was the right choice if it causes fights.
  • Our columnist says: Remember that you are part of a team and that you share a goal. Decide on a strategy and make peace with it.
  • A question for our columnist? Write to For Love & Money using this Google form.

Dear for love and money,

What to do when a disaster strikes your home? Several years ago, our house was flooded, the walls were ripped off, all major appliances were destroyed, the kitchen was destroyed. One of our dogs suffered an injury and required $2000 leg surgery.

The insurance didn’t cover the house and we paid the vet bill out of pocket. A state of emergency was declared, it took a month to bring in an appraiser and they decided $1,200 should cover it. And yet, just over $30,000 was the final even though we picked all the basics.

A low interest bank loan and credit cards are how we ended up dealing with this because we started fighting out of frustration and just needed to see progress. But now that we’re working to pay it all back, I wonder if we shouldn’t have handled things differently.

Sincerely,

When it rains, it pours


Dear when it rains, it rains,

Murphy’s Law, am I right? Because if anything can go wrong, that’s exactly what he tends to do. For example, home insurance, emergency funds and warranties.

And yet, as you’ve learned, no matter how big an emergency fund you accumulate, how much insurance you buy, or what coverages you buy, there always seem to be exceptions that blow our safeties. carefully orchestrated finances.

This kind of unexpected disaster is always difficult, but perhaps especially so when you also have to factor the thoughts and feelings of another adult into your solution strategy.

Start by putting your relationship first

My advice for navigating these financial emergencies without anyone ending up sleeping on the couch is to remember your priorities and agree from the start that whatever you choose to do, you do it as a team. When you choose to share a life with someone, you give up both the burden and the convenience of handling things on your own and in your own way.

So be sure not only to listen and communicate well with your partner, but also to put your relationship with them above all else. Because let’s say the worst comes to the worst and you end up homeless because of the financial disaster that has befallen your home – you’ll still have your partner. That’s why it’s so important not to let your difficult times escalate and deprive you of the person who means the most to you.

How to meet the challenges of competing strategies

This can be harder than it looks for several reasons.

First, it’s easy to forget that you share a goal with your partner. A priori, you share a life, so of course you share a goal! But in reality, we have different ways of doing things, and we do things the way we do them because, on some level, we think that’s the best strategy to help us achieve our goal. So when you see your partner approaching a common goal differently, it can be easy to believe they’re doing it differently because they want a different outcome. When in reality they just have a different strategy.

While getting on the same page is an important step, the best way to do this is to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. After all, what could be more likely? Do they like having financial difficulties or do they just have a different financial strategy than yours?

Another reason it can be difficult to come together rather than separate as a couple during times of financial crisis is that we view our partners as competitors rather than teammates. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something you identify with, but it’s sneaky, so carefully consider how you interact with your partner before you reject them.

If you find yourself tallying up who does the most around the house, makes the most money, or is the most exhausted at the end of the day, that’s your sign. You don’t count points with a teammate because their win is your win, but with your opponent, that’s the name of the game.

A tendency to turn every activity of more than 2 people into a rivalry is an unfortunate reality of the human condition, but if you let this tendency poison your relationship with your partner, you’ll find yourself struggling alone when you need the support the most. of your partner.

From the sound of your letter, you came out of your financial emergency largely intact, which now means you know you have what it takes if you ever find yourself facing similar issues in the future. . In other words, you have this.

Rooting for both of you (and your pup),

For love and money

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