When we think fidelity, we think extra-marital affair. Another woman, another man, enters the picture, and deception spoils the marriage. But there’s another form of infidelity, and it comes in the form of finances. As with cheating partners, the statistics aren’t very promising. Various studies show that 30 – 40 percent of spouses are financially unfaithful. That means that there’s a chance your partner’s (or you!) concealing spending habits. This isn’t just a sneaky little secret no one needs to know about. The money in a marriage affects both partners, and hiding bad habits is a recipe for disaster.
How to Know if Your Spouse is Secretly Spending
There are some telltale signs to look out for when it comes to this kind of deception. Like a child, if your spouse becomes defensive, or changes the subject whenever strange losses or money are noticed, that’s not a good sign. Missing statements, lower than expected bank balances, higher than expected credit card balances, are all symptoms of suspicious activity.
You may notice that a lot of new things have appeared around the house lately. Or your partner is suddenly impeccably dressed. Inquire about these things, but listen before you jump to conclusions. Lots of sales, or claims that items you’ve never seen before has been hanging in the closet for years are little fibs or exaggerations that you should look a little closer into.
Why it Matters
In many two income marriages, one, or even both, spouses may feel they have the right to buy something because they’ve worked hard and earned the money. Secret spending, and even secret credit cards, is not a good idea, despite the true fact that the money has been earned. If accounts are going to be managed and retirement is to be properly navigated, there needs to be truth around cash. Otherwise, you risk not having enough to live off of, and that’s an issue.
Even worse, though, is the secrecy. Most people feel more hurt at the deception than the act. Money can be earned again, after all. The behavior leads to trust issues in the relationship and very often causes strain that sometimes can’t be resolved. Of those who engaged in financial infidelity, a whopping 75 percent said it had a negative impact on their marriage.
And, of course, your credit is linked to your spouse’s credit, which means if either of you is in financial straights, it’s affecting the other person, too. That of course works up the vicious cycle of secrecy because the partner feels guilty about putting their loved one in this position.
How to Reign it in
If you find your partner is hiding spending, then you need to approach him or her. Don’t attack, though, this person didn’t do it out of bad humor. Most people pick up their parents’ attitudes about money at a young age, and if you and your spouse have a different way of handling money, it could be challenging for your partner. Be patient, forgiving, and open up the lines of communication.
A real problem might require the help of a therapist. This can open up new of looking at how one another spends, and why, and fix some bad habits to keep you both in good financial standing.
Some couples find that having two independent funds for spending, for each person to use as they wish as long as they stay within set parameters, find this solves the problem. There’s no need for sneaking around because you’re not doing anything wrong!