Financial indelibility is basically keeping money secrets from your significant other. It can range from hiding an occasional purchase from your partner to secretly gambling away retirement investments, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that keeping money secrets in a marriage is not a good thing no matter how well rationalized.
Some of the common reasons people give for engaging in financial infidelity include:
- A lack of trust in their spouse
- Feeling they are entitled to get the things they want
- Feeling that they are not entitled to buy things for themselves so they lie about it
- To avoid a fight because every time they talk about money it turns into an argument
- Revenge – to get back at a spouse for something they did or didn’t do
Because financial infidelity affects your finances as well as your relationship, many people believe it is actually worse than cheating because it can not only ruin your relationship but your bank account as well and leave you financially strapped for a very long time. So how can you protect your relationship? Here are three basic strategies to keep you and your spouse from falling into financial infidelity trap:
- Have regular money discussions. Money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce so couples who can talk about money – their goals, their ideas about managing money, their concerns, and disappointments have a much better chance of creating a successful relationship. The problem is, many couples find it difficult to talk about money so they keep secrets. However, since secrets have a way of eventually coming out, by not talking to your partner, you could be risking your entire relationship for some unimportant stuff. Instead, try scheduling regular ‘money dates’ with your partner to talk about money. Find a quiet time and place to talk, and then discuss one issue at time. Listen to each other and give each other time to respond. If you are unsure how to start, start with the Love & Money Quiz and make it a fun conversation. Then discuss an area of concern and why it is so important to you on your next ‘money date.’
- Have a ‘mad money’ allowance. Set a dollar amount that each of you can spend any way you like (typically $50-$200/mo.) so that you don’t have to sneak around every time you want to buy something or go out.
- Manage your money together. While you don’t have to do everything together, each of you should know your financial situation at all times. It’s okay to trust each other, but take the time to check in on occasion to stay up to date. Some important activities include opening and paying bills, creating a budget, and periodic reviews of your investments.
Don’t put your relationship at risk instead look for constructive ways to work through money issues with your partner. It can not only bring you closer together, but it can help you build a relationship that will endure through good and bad times. ps!
P.S. Read more about financial infidelity in Bonnie Eaker-Weil’s book, Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker