Marriage is a partnership between two individuals. No matter what how love-stricken and ready you may feel going into a marriage, life as a couple is different than life as two individuals. Most couples merge finances and assets. If there is a disparity in wealth between the two of you, or considerable debt, it influences your relationship in other ways.

Finances are a leading cause of stress for everyone, single or married. Finding agreement between two people requires cooperation and communication. That’s easier said than done. Student loan debt is a heavy burden on many couples. The average debt from education has risen by 62 percent in the past decade.

A cause of growing stress

It’s no surprise that this debt adds stress to new marriages. It’s just one piece of the financial puzzle, but it has a major impact on establishing a new home, timing your career path and starting a new family. Significant debt may delay starting a family, lead to extra work hours away from the home to repay that debt, and cause other trickle-down stresses on spending, saving and household relationships. If one partner owes more than the other, that disparity can threaten the relationship through feelings of guilt or fault.

When agreement can’t be found

Relationship counseling can help a family budget and work together as a unit, but not everyone can adjust to the new dynamics. Similarly, a prenuptial agreement is an option to address income differences or debt before marriage.

Finances are the leading cause of stress in US relationships. Sometimes it creates an insurmountable obstacle to making marriage work. At other times, that financial stress might escalate other situations. If a couple cannot work together fairly and its creating an unpleasant situation, divorce may be the best option to relieve the tension at home and to find a new arrangement that work best for you.