No matter how much you love your spouse, you may not love how they handle money. In the past, they might have made expensive purchases and lied about them to you. Or, they might have made risky investments – without your knowledge – that ended up harming your household’s finances. These behaviors, and others, meet the threshold for financial infidelity, and it is important to understand whether your marriage can withstand it.
Understanding financial infidelity
Often, financial infidelity does not begin with the intent to cause harm. Rather, one spouse in a marriage may think, for instance, that they can conceal a debt, purchase or account without consequences. Yet, over time, one lie or omission can snowball into a larger pattern of deception. If these are discovered, they can erode trust in a marriage, if not destroy it.
Over 40% of marriages experience some degree of financial infidelity. While the types of transgressions vary, common ones include:
- Concealing a bonus or a raise
- Gambling shared assets away
- Hiding credit card statements
- Lying about the price of purchases
- Opening a secret credit card account
- Secretly withdrawing money from a shared savings account
Dealing with financial infidelity
After discovering your spouse’s financial infidelity, the first thing you must do is talk with them. You two must weigh the impact their actions had on your finances and work toward repairing them – and your relationship. In doing this, you will want to create a budget. While you can draft one on your own, you may want to seek the help of a financial planner, especially if you and your spouse do not see eye to eye on money matters.
If your spouse’s transgression was major, or if their financial infidelity continues despite discussions and budgeting, you may decide that filing for divorce is your best option. As painful as it may be, you must do everything in your power to protect yourself and your assets from further harm.