Financial infidelity can do as much harm to your marriage as a romantic infidelity. Since marriage is part romance and part finance (i.e. running a household, setting common life and financial goals), when you find your spouse engaging in financial behaviors that lack transparency, hide the truth, and/or purposefully obscure the financial realities of your household, you are threatening the longevity of your marriage.
Here are three signs that you’re committing financial infidelity in your marriage and what you should do about it.
1. Hiding bills.
Hiding bills from your spouse creates a wall between you and your partner. Not only that, hiding bills paints an inaccurate picture of your financial landscape, which can worsen your family’s finances in the short term and long term. When you don’t allow your partner to have an authentic position in the relationship to communicate goals, the trust erodes and resentment can build. If you are hiding bills, you need to come clean with your partner about what bills you are hiding and why.
2. Paying the bills of financially enabled family members without telling your spouse.
When you marry, your spouse and your family needs become a priority. This is not to say that you shouldn’t help out your family members, but if you are doing this behind your spouse’s back, you are betraying your spouse’s financial trust. On top of that, you are taking food out of their mouth or your children’s mouths, when you reallocate joint money (or personal money) to someone else.
If you have a family member that struggles and you want to support them, then you will need to be transparent with your spouse about how much you want to give. You may find that your spouse may be in agreement. If they are not, be willing to actively listen to their concerns and reach a fair agreement that empowers the family member and protects your family’s wealth.
3. Keeping secret accounts.
This one is pretty deep. If you are maintaining a secret account from your spouse and they find out about it, be prepared to spend a lot of time repairing the trust in your marriage. This is assuming that they are willing to speak to you and haven’t put you out of the house. Keeping secret accounts is a big sign that you are not 100% present in your marriage and it may indicate that you are planning for the worse.
Unlike agreeing to keep separate accounts (in addition to joint accounts), a decision to keep secret accounts shows that you thinking only about yourself. Before you start toying with the idea of keeping a secret account, think deeply about the impact that it will have on your marriage. Moreover, it may be worthwhile to speak to a counselor about your trepidations about marriage, your relationship with money, and what conflicting feelings you have with merging money and marriage.
BMWK- How can you safeguard your marriage from financial infidelity? If you have experienced financial infidelity in your marriage, what did you do to overcome it?