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Relationship Trends: Is Student Debt Affecting How and When People Marry?

"If someone you love hurts you cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it." -Anonymous

When I do my student debt talks around the country, I always hear a ton of heartbreaking stories. Real people sharing their student loan nightmares with me. The ones that hit me the hardest are always the ones that talk about a loss of a relationship due to the student loans.

So how much debt causes a broken heart you ask? According to the New York Times, the answer is arguably $170,000. The Times reported on a man who broke off his engagement after he discovered his fiancée was carrying more than $170,000 in debt, most of which was in the form of student loans.

Unfortunately, these stories happen more often than you think.

A poll conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling reveals that debt has become a primary concern in relationships today: Thirty-seven percent of the people surveyed said they would not marry their partner until their debts were paid off!

Of course, I can’t point solely to student debt as the only reason why millennials today are putting off marriage. The Gottman Institute, for example, cites such factors as changing views about marriage and increasing sense of personal independence among this generation of young adults.

However, as the vast majority of student debt falls on the shoulders of millennials, this debt no doubt plays a huge role in why this generation is waiting on marriage. Yet again, we see another horrendous effect this debt is having on our economy, our culture, and our way of life.

Data from Pew Research confirms that 69 percent of unmarried millennials say they want to marry, but they don’t feel they have a solid enough financial foundation to do so.

Erik Klinenberg, co-author of Modern Romance: An Investigation, explains this issue further to The Washington Post: “When there’s rough economic times, marriage rates go down. People don’t feel comfortable committing to someone during hardships.” The Post goes on to report that financial instability causes some millennials to delay marriage even into their thirties.

As we know, this debt is not the easiest to escape—quite the opposite, in fact. What happens when young people realize that this debt is like a never-ending hamster wheel? Are they just never going to get married? Are they going to abandon even the concept of committed relationships?

I used to think it was just a bunch of guys looking for an excuse not to put themselves out there. Then I heard the stories of women getting heartbroken for this reason. Ladies would come up to me talking about their fiancées thinking twice about marriage or putting off having kids because of student loans. I don’t want to imagine a world where this debt is a relationship deal breaker. I thought looking at someone’s income to peg their value as a potential mate was shallow. Now I know it is simply an indicator of stability. People need stability, just like they need passion, love and empathy.

So, consider me the love guru.

Yes, student debt can delay marriage, as well as other major milestones, such as buying a home and starting a family. Thankfully, if you’re currently struggling with your student debts, there are real solutions available to help you reduce or eliminate that burden.

To learn more, call us at College Loan Freedom today.

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