Debt-related stress is higher than ever before in the United States, and this should come as no surprise. After all, Americans are holding more debt than ever before during a time of economic uncertainty, rising inflation, and skyrocketing interest rates. But what is the measurable effect of debt stress on marriage and divorce? How does money’s impact on our mental health alter our marriages, and how does this psychological issue continue to affect us even after our divorces have been finalized?

Money Stress Forces Some Couples to Stay in Unhappy Marriages

First of all, financial stress can force couples to stay in marriages that they absolutely detest. This may be due to the fact that many spouses cannot actually afford to get divorced – even if they want to. The legal fees can be considerable, and the cost of living as a single person is notably higher than the cost of living in a family. Tax issues also become more problematic when you become single, as spouses lose family-related tax credits. You also need to factor in the cost of support payments, plus the tax implications of receiving support payments. All of this can easily lead to serious levels of stress. 

CNBC reports that women are more likely to stay in unhappy marriages due to financial stress – but also pointed out that women who choose divorce report higher levels of happiness despite experiencing less wealth. 

Financial Stress Can Cause Divorce

But while financial stress can force couples to stay in unhappy marriages, it can also serve as the catalyst that ends marriages. Couples who argue more often about money are much more likely to get divorced. There is some evidence that social media is driving up financial stress, with Gen Z and millennials reporting negative emotions about their finances after seeing other people’s posts. This, in turn, increases the risk of divorce. 

Divorcees are Struggling Financially and Psychologically

And, of course, financial stress can continue long after the divorce itself. Many divorcees struggle with greater financial issues – particularly women. While most will agree that ending an unhappy marriage is worth the financial consequences, this doesn’t change the fact that divorcees tend to face serious financial stress for years after the end of their marriage. For some, the stress never truly fades away. Some studies show that divorcees are more likely to borrow from their family members or seek financial assistance from charities and government programs. 

One of the best ways to deal with this financial stress is to approach divorces efficiently with the help of financial professionals. Sometimes, stress is simply the result of uncertainty. When spouses receive a basic run-down on post-divorce financial issues, it can be easier for them to adopt a sense of optimism. Some point out that couples can reduce stress by taking advantage of their state’s “cooling off” period before the legal process of a divorce begins. In many ways, however, financial stress is unavoidable – especially during a period of economic uncertainty.