We all know cheating, or infidelity, can damage even the healthiest of relationships. But did you know financial infidelity can be just as devastating? I heard this term for the first time while listening to a radio talk show about financial well-being. I wasn't sure exactly what financial infidelity was. But after digging deeper, I was shocked to learn just how common it is.
First of all, the definition of financial infidelity is: “An outright lie about money or spending and keeping money secrets from your partner.” So, I ask the question: Are you cheating on your honey…with money?
None of us likes to be lied to. If your partner is hiding things from you, the trust will be lost and your relationship may begin to suffer. Hiding financial information could not only destroy your relationship, but could also severely impact your credit, especially if you have a partner covertly racking up debt in YOUR name!
According to a recent poll of 1,000 married couples, 70 percent surveyed say they argue about money.* Overspending habits can put tension on any relationship, especially when the two parties have different financial goals. Couples who argue about finances, at least once a week, are 30 percent more likely to divorce. The more debt a couple has, the more they will fight. Add to that the possibility of one party committing financial infidelity by dragging down their significant other’s credit score and you now have a major love triangle.
Keeping secrets and lying can make any marriage go very, very wrong. In many instances, financial infidelity starts small, but it is a behavior that will usually repeats itself and spirals out of control. Here are a few examples of behavior that could signal a financial infidelity problem:
- Fibbing and lying about prices of items you purchase. (All those Amazon purchases?)
- Socking money away that your spouse knows nothing about. (Do you have a secret bank account?)
- Avoid telling your spouse how much money you spent by hiding purchases. (Do you go shopping and hide your purchases before your partner gets home when it’s NOT Christmas?)
- Using marital money to support an addiction. (Gambling, shopping, expensive hobby, etc.)
- Racking up credit card or loan debt. (Do you feel euphoric when shopping?)
- Giving significant money to family and friends without discussing with your spouse.
- Changing online passwords online or changing the address where your credit card bills are sent.
If you are concerned or suspicious of financial infidelity within your household, try not to accuse your partner in an aggressive way. First, try and gather facts to understand what is going on. Be open with your partner, and review bank and credit statements together. Communicate.
If you are the one committing financial infidelity, it’s time to come clean. Confronting and being honest about your problem is a great first step. Below is a safe model to follow. Use it as a guide to get back on track with your spending and your relationship.
- Speak the truth, come clean.
- Agree to a plan and set up a budget.
- Follow the agreement and review it often.
- Emergency plan: Seek help of a therapist or financial advisor.
Financial infidelity can be overcome, but it requires effort from both parties in the relationship. Make a goal and go forward together — enjoy a healthier, wealthier life!