Dear Harriette:

I purchased my first home last year. As we came into 2020, the pandemic hit, and my wife and I lost our jobs. We were unable to pay our full mortgage. We scraped together enough money doing side jobs to pay some monthly payments, but we are still behind. Now we are going into 2021, and we are exhausted. It feels like we work nonstop trying to hold on to everything we planned for together.

Our holidays were quiet — just the two of us — but we have been able to stay safe and healthy despite the pandemic. We are nervous for the new year but hopeful that we will find jobs and avoid going into foreclosure. Do you have advice for an unemployed young couple with a mortgage to pay? Do you think we will ever see things go back to completely normal?

— Failing Mortgage

Dear Failing Mortgage: I’m so sorry to learn of your challenges. Sadly, millions of Americans are in the same situation. Perhaps this can work to your advantage. Because so many people are unable to pay, banks and other lenders are having to figure out ways to work with families so that the whole market does not collapse. If you haven’t already, develop a relationship with the person handling your mortgage payments. Talk to this person and discuss payment plans.

Even if you can’t come up with the full amount, your lender may cut you some slack if you can pay something each month. Ask for help.

As long as you stay in close communication with them, you stand a chance of working out a deal that may help you to keep your home.

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