Infidelity. Most couples think it’s a relationship breaker. But in many relationships a surprisingly amount of infidelity goes on every day without a word. Financial infidelity, rampant in many relationships, may go unnoticed at first. It could be as little as hiding small purchases from a spouse or as large as blatant disregard for a partner’s input on large investments. And like sexual infidelity, unhealthy communication concerning money can shatter relationships.
Here’s an example. Lauri and Jason discuss financial goals frequently and believe they are on solid financial footing, but unknowingly they are beginning to chip away at their financial stability and ultimately their marriage.
How can that be? Take a typical shopping day. After getting everything on her list, Lauri buys a new blouse that’s over her budget. Feeling a little guilty, she also grabs a shirt for Jason, charging the expense to their joint credit card.
Jason acts pleased about the shirt, but inside he is upset that Lauri spent the extra money. So begins the cycle: on his next trip to the hardware store, he buys a new drill and doesn’t tell Lauri.
Lauri and Jason are on their way toward a crisis of financial infidelity. By lying about money, or even just not telling the whole truth, the foundation of their trust and loyalty is beginning to crack. According to Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD., the author of Financial Infidelity, this seemingly trivial behavior can hurt any relationship, and if steps are not taken, eventually destroy it.
If this situation sounds familiar, it’s not too late to reverse course and confide in your partner. Have the courage to tell the truth and initiate a frank discussion about finances. Keeping financial secrets is destructive to your relationship.
Take responsibility for your mistakes. If you bounced a check, made a stupid purchase, or forgot to mail the bills, don‘t hide it. Though you are embarrassed, your partner will respect you for telling the truth.
It is true that talking about money can lead to arguments. But financial disagreements are almost never about money. They are usually about fundamental values, mutual consideration and personal control. Realizing the large part money plays in your life and how it affects your relationships, you can work to make positive changes in your financial behavior. A successful relationship grows with an understanding of financial needs, which will strengthen your relationship and enable you to create a secure, productive partnership together.
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Also, lying about little things can become a slippery slope and lead to bigger and more harmful untruths. In a healthy relationship, you should feel comfortable being open with one another – that is, unless one partner is blatantly disregarding the feelings and wishes of the other. If that is the case, you may need to speak with a relationship counselor.