Directly behind infidelity (the ‘traditional kind’), money problems are often listed as the second leading cause of divorce. Finance is a lightning rod for couples: who spent what, who makes more, stress over bills...the list goes on.
As stressful as everyday financial problems are among couples, what if you added on top of that, financial infidelity? Financial infidelity is any kind of lie or secret around money or spending in your relationship. Many of us are probably guilty at the lowest level (’The purse was only $45.’ Or ‘forgetting’ to tell your spouse about a purchase.). Is this healthy? No. But the occasional small white lie probably won’t destroy your relationship, as long as it stops there.
Financial infidelity may not be planned. Most probably aren’t maliciously keeping secrets from their spouse. Maybe the secret credit card was for a one-time purchase. Or maybe you’re embarrassed about your debt, so you don’t tell your partner about it. Whatever the reason, keeping money secrets in a relationship can cause major problems. First, there’s the obvious consequence of any dishonesty - you break the trust in your relationship, which is hard to build back. The problems pile on however because there are very real financial consequences if the secret is tied to financially irresponsible behaviors. High debt and risky investments can cause long-term damage to your spouse’s financial future. You and your spouse’s finances are tied together. If a spouse gets a secret loan or credit card, that debt is legally their spouse too. They are responsible for the repayment, and it can hurt their credit.
How to avoid financial infidelity ruining your relationship
As is the key to most problems in relationships, communication is the one and only way to resolve, and avoid the issue. Have regular check-ins with your partner on your finances. This is especially important if one of the spouses is not at all involved in household money management. I can’t stress enough how important it is for both people to have a solid understanding of the family finances. Talk about your budget, anything big coming up, major purchases from the past week, and progress made towards goals. Regular financial check-ins promote an open environment and encourage communication.