Cheating is Cheating: Financial Infidelity Disrupts Relationships
Most couples aspire to a completely transparent relationship built on trust, but according to a SELF Magazine survey, 46 percent of people in relationships have committed “financial infidelity,” which is lying to their partner about money. While financial infidelity might not garner as much attention as sexual infidelity, it has proven to be a damaging characteristic when unearthed. It’s not uncommon for secretive partners to commit financial infidelity for their personal gain, but sometimes a cover-up is the product of embarrassment or shame. Learn the driving factors behind financial infidelity and tips to facilitate an honest relationship.
The Psychology of Money
When two partners agree to spend their life together, there’s an assumption that their financial lives are also joined. Our brains have a hard time giving up financial independence, however, even as a product of a trusting relationship. Even in relationships, money represents power. If one partner is earning more than the other, he or she may feel entitled to more personal spending money. On the flip side, someone earning less money than his or her partner may feel unfairly belittled, reacting by secretly spending excess money to gain a private sense of equality.
Signs of Infidelity
No one wants to actively look for their partners’ financial infidelity, but certain red flags can signify dishonesty. If you and your spouse set a budget and he or she consistently spends lavishly, you may be unaware of a separate account. Financial infidelity doesn’t always happen with malicious intent. Your spouse may have personal debt that he or she is struggling to repay. As a result, your spouse may be trying to hide the collections letters that come through the mail.
You can’t protect yourself from financial infidelity the same way you can from identity theft through a service such as LifeLock, but being mindful of your budget will keep you aware of any inconsistencies.
Damage of Infidelity
Financial Infidelity may not illicit the same emotions as sexual infidelity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t take its tole on a relationship. According to the aforementioned survey, 60 percent of both men and women think cheating is cheating, no matter the context. Financial insecurity is already one of the major stresses for couples, and a layer of mistrust with regard to finances can strangle the relationship.
The correlation between financial secrecy and relational damage is significant. According to BusinessInsider.com, 45 percent of separated or divorced couples said they discovered financial secrets about their spouse. Couples that hope to withstand the rigors or marriage can’t afford to withhold financial secrets.
Preventing financial infidelity starts with a foundation of trust. If you and your spouse feel comfortable raising financial issues together, you can agree to share accounts, allowing transparency on all financial issues. If you cause or experience financial infidelity, discuss the motives behind the issue. Perhaps you or your spouse feel like the current budget is disproportional or unfair. Talk out your financial issues to create a financial plan that both of you can support.