Debt can be crippling and stressful, but it doesn't have to ruin personal relationships. While it may be easy to project stress onto spouses and family members, its important to remain focused on paying down the debt as fast as possible and reshaping the financial future.

Personal finance expert Dani Johnson, author of First Steps to Wealth, says financial complications are a leading factor in divorces and failed relationships today. This debt that Americans are drowning in is also impacting children, and serving as a poor lesson to them about how to best manage their own finances.

"Struggles dont have to contaminate the marriage, whether you are one year into it or one month into it," Johnson says. "Debt can be shameful and embarrassing, but there's nothing like a couple coming together to punch out the debt that has been punching them."

Here are Johnson's five tips to help couples avoid letting finances ruin their relationship.

No. 1: Remember the enemy. Debt can surely pit spouses against one another, Johnson warns, so it is important to stay united at battling the real problem. "Stop destroying each other, and start fighting the real fightthe war on debt." Your energy and time are better spent digging out of debt than fighting with your partner.

No. 2: Live within your means. Making a lot of money doesn't make them rich, says Johnson. "If you make $5 million a year and spend $5 million a year, that is a poverty mentality. We must mature as individuals to live within and below our means, even when your income grows." She suggests simple steps like cutting back on food shopping and finishing whats already in the pantries can really help build a savings cushion.

No. 3: Quit the blame game. Placing blame on others like your boss, the economy, politicians, and of course, your spouse, will not dig you out of debt. "You need to govern wisely to grow in your financial territory," she said. 

No. 4: Step away from work. Working on your relationships is just as important as working on your career and managing your debt. Be sure to take time out to spend with your family, it will help relationships recharge and will reenergize you for work and increase productivity.

No. 5: Resist financial infidelity. Lying to your spouse about money is a gateway to be untruthful about other things, says Johnson. "This is the fastest way to sabotage your relationship. Sit down together and realistically and honestly outline your goals for the future. Trust will help you overcome your debt.

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