It’s Your Fault!
Seeing all the rhetoric from the U.S. about why the country needs to raise its debt ceiling is reminiscent of watching married couples argue about why they are so far in Debt. Usually, it’s nobody’s fault if you listen to all the stories and such (when in fact it’s everyone’s fault (usually)).
Now I am not talking about situations where one spouse enjoys la Vida Loca a little too much and on the sly rolls up huge bills, but usually, in most marriages or relationships, both sides are to blame for the build-up of any debt. Like Homer Simpson said, “It takes two to tell a lie. One to tell a lie and the other to believe it” (I think I am paraphrasing that, but you get the gist of it).
What does it matter to what degree either member of the relationship is responsible for the Debt (unless this is in a court of law, then I guess it matters)? If you are attempting to get out of Debt and are having discussions about who is to blame, who cares? It is like the Titanic’s Captain fretting about the size of the iceberg they hit. The problem is here. Let’s solve it and worry about what caused what later!
Many times arguments in relationships break down into emotional nuclear war. Both sides are using every dirty bomb they can find (and no one is sure who escalated the war to that level), and that is where you must stop, step back, and realize the problem you are trying to solve and detach it from the possible causes. Yes, you need to know some reasons to start getting out of Debt, but please don’t try to lay blame (save that for later). Just identify it, resolve it and move on (and if you want, keep a score card for later recriminations).
Remember the firemen who come to put out the fire at your house don’t look to figure out how it started until long after they have turned on the hoses (unless you are standing there with a gas can in your hand, a book of matches and a (notarized) sign around your neck that says, “I am an arsonist, and I started this fire”). Don’t worry about who did what to who in terms of the Debt built up in your house. Just start working on stopping it from getting any bigger.
Who is to blame for your Debt? (it’s a trick question)
I think if you have a large amount of debt if it’s in individual names you need to get advice from a solicitor/lawyer. Consolidating individual debt with a loan secured against joint assets errodes the other parties equity in bankruptcy and divorce. A more detailed explaination is here bankruptcy and joint assets. If a credit card is just in your name your wife/husband is not liable, if you stop paying it the bank can only come after your half of the assets. If you consolidated it what was once individual debt is now joint debt and messy.