Most people would agree that cheating in a relationship is a dealbreaker. At the same time, at least four out of 10 married couples report that money conversations always lead to a fight. So what happens when these issues are combined? Financial infidelity is a thing. For example, 31 percent of people say they have a secret credit card. Such a lack of trust can wreak havoc on your marriage.
This is not to be confused with someone who is irresponsible when it comes to money. That can be difficult to deal with, but, unlike financial infidelity, they’re not consciously lying.
What is Financial Infidelity?
This is a matter of deliberate deception. You or your partner willfully choose not to be honest about your financial habits. Some common examples include hiding:
1. Bank Account or Credit Card
Plenty of couples opt to have separate bank accounts, but this is not a secret. Financial infidelity occurs when you open an account and intentionally hide it. Besides the obvious dishonesty, such a move can toss a monkey wrench into your shared money goals.
Another version of this is the secret credit card. Quite often, the existence of a hidden card is a sign of other problems. Your spouse may be trying to hide purchases they are ashamed of or feel guilty about. Also, it’s not unusual for a financial cheater to open a new credit card to transfer balances to hide them better.
It is a form of cheating to spend your collective money on something but not tell your partner about it. You’ve betrayed their trust and, as mentioned above, negatively impacted your family budget.
Not everyone earns a traditional paycheck. People with more of a freelance style of income might decide to keep it to themselves when they get an unexpected payment. To reiterate, choices like these can damage your economic well-being. But, more importantly, they display a dangerous disconnect between the partners.
How to Avoid and/or Heal From Financial Infidelity
1. Direct Communication and Transparency
This is your foundation. Discuss openly, often, and face-to-face. Sharing everything is an excellent way to ensure that nothing is left open to interpretation. In cases where financial infidelity has been committed, you will need full transparency. Bring everything to light and talk respectfully about how to repair it. This process may be most effective in the presence of a skilled couples counselor.
2. Commit Together to Financial Honesty
Once the cheating partner has owned up and expressed remorse, it’s time to heal. It is also time to address the financial damage caused by that partner’s deceit. This daunting journey can be made smoother when you choose to work together to find solutions. Teamwork will help carry you through the challenges.
3. Budget Together
Healthy money management connects directly to your plans, goals, dreams, and choices. Huge decisions like buying a home, starting a family, relocating, or starting a new career require financial solidarity. To prevent money secrets, turn budgeting into a couple’s venture—this crucial part of a couple’s life ties into so many other aspects.
4. Immediately Admit Your Mistakes
In your shared financial life, make it a habit to be upfront about any money-related mistakes you make. Explain the situation and work together to remedy whatever fallout has occurred. No one is perfect, and there’s no value in hiding it.
Trust and money can be two touchy subjects. If you find yourself avoiding them, we should talk soon. Let’s connect for a consultation for couples counseling to keep you and your partner on a healthy financial path.