Jeremy Mazza was forced to take out credit cards after he had to financially support his parents as well as losing income due the COVID-19 pandemic. Ginna Lambert, his partner and inheritor of a small fortune, provided him with some relief. She suggested that Mazza “invest” part of her bounty by lending Mazza small amounts to help pay off his debt.

It was a little convincing.

Mazza states, “To be asked for money as a provider and to have parents asking for money, it was a difficult thing to do.” “But that’s not the point of this, this was a caring thing span>

Lambert and Mazza approached the situation openly and with specific terms. It’s paying off. Mazza estimates that Lambert’s credit score has increased by approximately 150 points. They live in Richmond, Virginia and are planning to get married this year.

Lambert states, “I had a very strong interest in ensuring my partner’s finances and credit score were in the best possible shape.”

Although joint debt is shared responsibility, you are responsible for any individual debts brought into your relationship. They can still get in the way when you’re trying to make your life together, so it might be a good idea for your partner to help with your debt. Don’t make an agreement of this nature without having a plan.

Be vulnerable with full financial information

Being open about your financial situation is essential, especially when your relationship becomes more serious.

“If you are planning on getting married, it is a good idea for you to have a talk before you tie the knot,” Trina Patel (a senior financial advisor manager at Albert a financial service company) says.

Talk about your current situation with each other on a few money-free dates. These conversations can help you set shared goals and determine what actions you should take to achieve them.

“Debt can bring up feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment, leading spouses not to talk about their debts,” Leanne Rahn, a financial adviser at Fiduciary, Grand Rapids, Michigan by email. It’s hard to admit vulnerability, but you and your partner are a team span>

Use non-monetary means to assist

It is possible that you are unable or unwilling to pay off the debt of your partner. You have many other options to support your partner. If you live together, you can be an accountability buddy and help to rethink your household budget.

You might be able to take on more household chores to allow your partner to work longer hours. Or, you could help your partner to edit their resume to make it easier for them to get a better-paying job.

Discuss a financial arrangement

You can gift or loan your partner money for their debts if you feel comfortable. Write down the dollar amount.

Lambert offered Mazza a $2,000 loan for six months, with no interest, in the beginning. They both became more comfortable with larger loans over time.

Having an attorney draft a contract is a great way to make both of you feel comfortable.

Rahn states that a legally binding agreement would make each spouse/significant other’s responsibilities clear and simple, with the law holding them responsible.

When to say “no”

Even if you love your partner, it’s okay not to shoulder the financial responsibility of another person. You can cheer on your partner while they pay off their debt, even if your relationship is new or uncertain.

If your partner doesn’t accept your “no” as an answer, it is a money red flag so proceed with caution.

Lambert states, “I wouldn’t have offered this to us if we weren’t in our honeymoon phase.” “At that time, we had already moved into our new home together. He had proven time and again that he was trustworthy .”

This article was originally published by The Associated Press and was written by NerdWallet.