My husband is deep in debt! How can I draw the line?

2 Mins read

Dear reader, welcome to our very first edition of ASK DARA. After years of sharing financial literacy advice with thousands of women in the HerVest Community, we’ve grown to become a safe space where women share candid experiences about their finances. We’ve decided to share some of these conversations with the wider community with the hopes that there are a lot of women dealing with similar challenges. We hope you learn something or two and can share your supportive advice in the comments below. If you have a question for Dara, please do not hesitate to email us at

Please note that names have been changed to keep the respondent’s identity anonymous and confidential. Without further ado, let’s dive into today’s question.

Dear Dara,

My husband is at it again. When we got engaged, he was badly in debt. I didn’t know about his credit score until we were close to the marriage date. He confided in me that he took the loan for a business deal that failed. I however noticed that this one-off behaviour has become a lifestyle. Not only have I supported him in clearing out past loans that I don’t know what he takes them for- because we are okay materially, but we are currently deep in another debt. The loan companies have been calling non-stop. They have also reached out to family members with offensive, threatening messages. I don’t know what to do. I think my husband is yet to learn his lesson. How do I draw the line without hurting my marriage?

From Sharon, 38. Lagos, Nigeria

Thank you Sharon for sharing this concerning situation with me. Based on what you’ve described, it seems your husband has developed unhealthy financial habits and may be struggling with some underlying issues that you aren’t aware of. Have you probed deeper? Here are a few thoughts:

His repeated borrowing and accumulating debt despite having your financial support suggests an unhealthy relationship with money and poor impulse control. Financial matters can be deeply personal and stressful. What is his money history? Is he encountering any financial challenges at work? You mentioned that your family is financially stable so where does the money go to? These are some of the foundational questions we need answers to.

Additionally, his aggressive collection tactics is unacceptable and counterproductive. His failure to handle money appropriately points to a lack of accountability.

Rather than accusing him or taking a harsh approach, I’d recommend a calm, compassionate conversation where you express your concerns from a place of care, not criticism. Hear his perspective too. Understanding the root causes will help address this long-term. I also encourage you to bring into this conversation a family member or someone respectable to whom he can be accountable.

Suggest developing a budget together and seeking financial counselling. Getting professional guidance could help him change spending patterns and gain healthier money management skills.

Importantly, you may need to set limits, like jointly managing finances for now. But approach this from a team perspective, to regain mutual trust over debts/spending.

His willingness to acknowledge issues and get help will determine if your marriage can withstand this challenge. With open communication and commitment to change, it’s possible to work through. But his debts impact you both so action is desperately needed.

The goal here is understanding, not hostility. With empathy and professional support, you have a chance to resolve this problem as a united team rather than adversaries.

Remember, change takes time and patience, but with the right support system in place, anything is possible. Stay positive and focused on finding a solution that works for both of you. Wishing you all the best.

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