Oftentimes, the fights occur because of financial infidelity- when one partner has been deceitful about money in some way and hardships ensure for both people in the relationship.
Duplicity of any kind can cause strain in a relationship, but money is an especially hard topic for many people and lying makes it all the more difficult.
“Financial infidelity refers to one or both partners withholding information from a partner,” says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Endowment for Financial Education, who did a large survey among couples for financial troubles.
What Counts as Financial Infidelity
1. Spending in Secret
It could be assumed that if you keep something hidden, whether a small purchase or other money issues, it’s probably a bad idea to lie and keep the details from your partner.
Not telling your partner about an expenditure beyond the norms of what you usually spend is a clear case of financial duplicity.
This behavior often happens with credit cards – but stealing cash from a joint checking account, for example, is also considered financial infidelity in many relationships.
2. Concealing Debt
Having debt in your name – for a car, home, or other major purchase – without the knowledge of your partner is a hidden problem you’ll both struggle with.
What about credit card debt? Hidden debts can be financial infidelity when spouses co-signed for the account and are liable for any charges on it.
3. Lying About Income
When you hide your income from a partner, especially if impacts the dynamic of your relationship or the household bills, that is a problem.
Fudging the truth about your salary at a new job before you get paid is also financial infidelity.
4. Hiding Bank Accounts
If you have a bank account that your partner doesn’t know about, that can cause many issues for you down the road if it’s found out.
A joint account is different: Most experts assume that partners both contribute to the cost of shared expenses and have knowledge of all transactions in it.
But lying by omission is still a breach of trust – a key ingredient in healthy relationships.
Why is Financial Infidelity Harmful?
Loss of Trust
A lie is a lie, and you may pay for them down the road- mostly with losing the trust of your spouse.
All of the examples listed above can weaken trust, which is so important to any relationship. But lying about your finances and expenses can also be downright dangerous.
The biggest reason you shouldn’t hide personal finances is that the harmful white lies can actually lead to financial ruin– for the both of you.
If you use your cards or cash to make a purchase without your partner knowing, you’re in danger of losing some control over your debts.
If you have a spouse who’s secretly in debt, that person could potentially drag the other into financial trouble.
If you’re spending more than your income or putting major purchases on a credit card without telling your partner, it could be dangerous – not just to your relationship but also to your finances.
It’s best to discuss any and all money decisions with your significant other.
Who Commits Financial Infidelity?
Lying about money isn’t just for the 1%.
Money is a big deal across the board, and divorce happens because of money problems no matter how rich you may be.
Most people worry about their finances to some degree, and that includes spending too much, hiding debt, or lying about financial matters. It’s why we stress having a budget so much- because it can alleviate so much stress!
But stress can take its toll, and some partners may be inclined to commit financial infidelity.
Differences by Gender
Men report more financial infidelity in their relationships than women do. Women, however, are more likely to keep track of all the bills and money-related matters for their partners or the whole family.
This may be because men use white lies about money in many different ways, with gambling being a major concern.
Differences by Age
People over age 65 are the most likely to commit financial infidelity in their relationships, with one in four reporting it at least once.
Young adults (ages 18-29) are the least likely to report any type of financial infidelity in their relationships.
Differences by Marital Status
People who are married are more likely to commit financial infidelity than people who are living with a partner or dating someone; while cohabiting people are less likely to say they aren’t honest about their finances.
Reasons for Financial Infidelity
1. Conflicting Goals
When financial infidelity is committed, it’s often because the goals aren’t in alignment with each other.
For example, one person wants to buy a new car while the other person is trying to save for a house. If there are conflicting money goals within a relationship, this may be where the problem begins.
2. Financial Dependence
If one partner contributes more income to the household than the other, this could lead to them holding back on their financial details. They may feel like everything will fall on them, rather than things being fair between the partners.
Also, people who rely on their partners for money may feel like they can’t stop certain spending behaviors or have a say in finances when the higher-paid person “controls” their living expenses and standard of living.
If one partner has a major debt they don’t want to share with their significant other, it can cause some internal strain- but in marriages, not discussing debt can cause issues with loans and other family decisions.
Money problems can cause resentment and anger if they aren’t talked about openly and honestly.
4. Financial Mistakes
It’s perfectly normal to make money mistakes every once in a while, and we understand you being embarrassed over them and keeping it hush-hush while you attempt to fix things.
If you’ve made a big enough mistake to hide it from your partner, it must hold a lot of weight on your shoulders.
5. Embarrassment or Guilt
If you’re committing financial infidelity, it might be because of embarrassment or guilt.
You may not want to admit that you’ve been extravagant in the past, living about your means, or that you owe money to a credit card company from a previous splurge.
Many people hide or make excuses for addictive behaviors, and skirting around the money side of addiction is a big reason for financial ruin.
Spending too much money, especially when it takes away from other parts of your life, is one of the signs you may be addicted.
If you notice a sudden shift in your spending habits, you may want to look for the root cause – whether on a small or large scale. It could be buying and eating less to gamble a couple of extra bucks, or selling all your furniture trying to win it big.
If you’re not on the same page financially in your relationship, it can cause resentment. If you’re not getting what you need from your spouse and resent them for this, this may lead to financial infidelity.
A sign of an affair if one partner is spending large amounts of money on gifts for someone else, if their credit card bills are higher than usual or if you notice other strange financial behavior.
9. Fear of Confrontation
It’s difficult to fight about money, which is natural. We’re all uncomfortable talking about finances or bickering with a partner over something serious like credit card debt.
If you’re committing financial infidelity because you want to avoid an argument, it might be easy to do so in the short term
10 Red Flags For Financial Infidelity in Your Relationship
If you spot some of these signs in your relationship like cash disappearing from your wallet, or money being thrown out with the trash, this is a clear indication that financial infidelity may be involved.
1. Cash Has Gone Missing
If money has suddenly gone missing from your wallet or bank account, it might be a sign of financial infidelity – especially if someone else was the last one to have access to this money.
This is one of the easiest ways to catch your partner in the act through a paper trail of evidence.
2. Your Partner is Paranoid About Getting the Mail
If your spouse is worried about you checking the mail or opening up their bank statements, this can be a sign that they’re hiding something.
3. Your Partner Doesn’t Want You to Check Their Phone
Does your spouse get uncomfortable when you see their phone or email account?
This might not be a sign of anything unless it’s happening routinely. It’s normal to get concerned about your personal privacy, but this shouldn’t be an ongoing issue if you’re committed to the relationship.
4. Your Significant Other Hasn’t Talked About Finances With You in the Past
Has your partner never talked about money in an honest way with you?
If your answer to this is yes, it might be a sign that they’re not willing to open up and share their financial history with you.
This is something we all deal with at some point, but your spouse needs to open up and be truthful about their money management- or the lack thereof!
5. You’ve Noticed Some Changes in Your Partner’s Spending Habits
If you and your partner are not on the same page and don’t have shared goals, it may be hard to notice any changes in your spending – but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.
Suddenly, there may be more stuff around the house or the family may be getting gifts or giving gifts more often- these extra purchases may be a sign to watch for.
6. Your Partner Throws Out the Receipts for Large Purchases
If they throw out receipts for large purchases, this can be a sign that they’re hiding something.
You might not think twice about this if it’s done infrequently, but if you notice that your partner is doing this regularly, it may be a sign of financial infidelity in your relationship.
7. Your Significant Other Doesn’t Have a Budget or Keep Track of Spending
Do you keep track of how much money is in your checking and savings accounts?
Having a budget is essential in our book, but if you’re in the dark on your finances, dark times are ahead!
If your partner doesn’t know how much is in their bank account or what they’re spending money on, it might be difficult for them to tell you the truth about their financial situation.
8. Your Partner Lying About the Amount They Owe on Their Credit Card
Credit cards can be an open invitation to financial disaster if you’re not careful. If your partner is trying to hide the amount of debt they owe, this might be a sign that they’re being unfaithful to their debts.
9. Your Partner Get Super Emotional Talking About Money
If your partner gets emotional talking about money, this can lead to hurt feelings or resentment. There may be a lack of trust in the relationship because you’re not on the same page financially.
Money is a very touchy subject that can lead to contention in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be.
10. Your Partner Has a Financially Addictive Hobby
Taking up crochet or painting can be fun, even a great side hustle, but spending too much is certainly a problem.
This can be a sign that they’re trying to spend money to avoid problems.
Your partner could be addicted to jewelry, gambling, or shopping to mask some emotional issues in the relationship.
What Can You Do to Fix or Prevent Financial Infidelity?
The best thing to do if you think your spouse is committing financial infidelity is to look at the situation objectively and not accuse them of anything.
They may simply be keeping something from you out of fear or guilt, which could make any accusations that you throw at them backfire on you.
Be Completely, Financially Open
Once you’ve both had the chance to talk about any money mistakes, it’s important that you’re completely open with each other.
You don’t want to hide anything from your partner—whether it’s a financial mistake or an addiction problem —because this will cause more problems in the future.
Understand the Root Cause
If you’re feeling as though perhaps this is related to something else, such as an affair or addiction, it’s important that both of you talk about these issues and try to resolve them.
Don’t blame each other for the situation in which you find yourselves; instead, work together towards a solution so that the financial infidelity will come to an end.
If your partner has committed financial infidelity, it’s important that you forgive them.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t hold them accountable for their actions; rather, this means that you should both try to move on from the event and not let it cause additional problems in your relationship.
Holding a grudge doesn’t make anyone feel better or help the situation- it’s better to focus on improving the situation and ensuring all your financial decisions are done with everyone’s input.
Propose a Full Financial Checkup for Both of You
Once you’ve gotten over the shock of financial infidelity, it’s time to take a real look at your money as a couple.
This means that you have to be 100% honest with each other when talking about your finances.
This may be the time to do a personal budget for each of you, or a joint one if you’re trying to tie it all in together and keep things fair with family expenses.
Align Your Financial and Life Goals Together
This may be the most important thing that you can do to avoid financial infidelity in your relationship.
Getting on the same page financially doesn’t mean living a restricted lifestyle– relationships often face compromise, but that means you find a middle ground you both can feel happy with.
You talk and align your goals, then work together to make the dreams a reality.
This should be an exciting topic to talk about, not a source of stress or resentment.
If you’re finding that your finances aren’t exactly aligned, it might be time to sit down and talk about what’s happening and how you can get back on track together.
Discuss Revised Spending Expectations
If you’ve found that your spouse has been spending more than they should, this is an ideal time to sit down and discuss how they can change the behavior for the better.
Discussing how much money one or both of you expect to spend on a weekly basis should be easy, as long as there are no bad habits preventing this from happening.
Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, committing financial infidelity is a sign that something more serious might be going on.
It’s important to reach out for support for this, and many other marriage issues.
Whether you want a therapist or mediator to help with discussions or a financial advisor to get your finances together, there is no shame in seeking out support.
If you’ve found that your partner has broken your trust with financial infidelity, it’s important to rebuild this trust.
While this can be difficult—especially if the duplicity continues —it’s possible to overcome these challenges when both of you are on the same side, fighting for a better future together.
Too long, didn’t read?
Financial infidelity can destroy a relationship, so it’s important to manage your money well and avoid some common mistakes.
If you truly love someone, it’s important that your money isn’t used as a way to control or manipulate them or used only for your own gains.
Not only do financial infidelities destroy relationships, but the person who is committing them usually doesn’t feel remorse because they believe they’re entitled to do what they want with their money.
This is never the case in relationships, so if you find signs from yourself or your spouse, it’s time to take action with your finances and change things for the better.
As with any other type of lying, once the financial infidelity has become apparent, you must immediately confront the situation before it continues.
This may not be easy—especially if this is something that has been going on for a long time—but it’s important that you do this to move on.
Once you’ve confronted the issue, try to rebuild the trust in your relationship.
Much of financial infidelity is about personal needs, and having power and control- but taking those things can ruin the trust with other people.