Money problems are a major reason for divorce. Ironically, they can also force unhappy couples to stay together.

Large debts can make it impossible for either spouse to afford to live on his or her own. Many couples find themselves “separated” under one roof, sleeping in different rooms but still sharing household expenses.

This sort of marital limbo is not a long-term solution, but what can you do about it? KCBS-TV has some suggestions.

The most important thing spouses in this situation can do is pay down their debt. A financial planner interviewed by KCBS says each spouse should agree who will pay off which debts. The two of them can create a budget of allowable expenses, and set a goal date for paying off the debt.

Meanwhile, avoid getting into new debt, and skip the temptation to hide money from your spouse. And do not make big purchases as a way of lashing out at your spouse; it will just make a tense and awkward situation even worse.

Children are good at sensing that something is wrong with their parents. A family therapist suggests keeping arguments to a minimum, and doing it where the kids cannot hear. Interestingly, she also suggests coming up with white lies if the children ask questions. For instance, she said parents should say they are sleeping apart because one spouse keeps the bedroom too cold for the other.

This last strategy may not work a well on older children, and you will have to tell them the truth eventually, when you are able to afford a divorce.