Financial Infidelity ... Dealing with the “Other Love”Submitted by Edwards & Associates Financial Services, Inc. on June 21st, 2016
When we said ‘I Do’ and ‘For Better or Worse’ many of us didn’t realize there was another party at the altar with us on our special day. But there was – our money personality.
Though sometimes taboo to openly talk about, the ever increasing number of marriages challenged or destroyed by financial infidelity warrants an open and honest discussion. Let’s part the veil of secrecy and carefully consider how we can address this “other love” head on.
Who Is this Other Love?
It’s financial infidelity and it is defined as the secret act of:
- Establishing undisclosed credit cards
- Establishing separate bank accounts
- Securing private loans
- Making hidden purchases
“Research conducted in 2012 by Self.com and Today.com who surveyed almost 24,000 men and women found:
- Almost 50% of married adults admitted to keeping money secrets from their spouses.
- 37% of men and 56% of women admitted to lying to their partner about money.
- 63% of men and 70% of women agreed that being honest about money was as important as being monogamous.
- 31% of couples had committed financial infidelity.
One in ten. That’s the ratio that people admit to having hidden credit card purchases, which have played a role in their separation or divorce, according to a report by moneysupermarket.com and reported in the article Secret Credit Card Spending and Divorce Linked in New Survey.” 1
With numerous studies pointing to financial infidelity as a key factor in divorce it’s time we look beyond the statistical reports and consider the “why” behind this ever increasing trend.
We’ve all heard the old saying “opposites attract” and that usually proves true. Should we be surprised to discover that it also holds true when we consider how we handle our finances?
Let’s reflect on the early days of our relationship.
- Did he sweep you off your feet by planning thoughtful and sometimes extravagant date nights where cost was not a factor?
- Did she love to purchase a new outfit or shoes for upcoming events when her closet could have produced many suitable options?
- Did he carefully plan your trips so they would be fun but also cost effective?
- Was she sensible in her lifestyle demands and concerned about straying from her budget?
- Was he careful to conduct extensive research before assisting you in your next large purchase?
- Was she not entangled with the burden of finances and very comfortable with you making all the decisions when it came to expenses?
All those earlier experiences were pointing to their personal relationship with money – their money personality. And most likely it was opposite to your own, which made the early days of dating intriguing, exciting and possibly respectful. So why has it now become a landmine field? What has changed? Who has changed? Can it be fixed?
What Are The Warning Signs?
First, let’s start with an honest look at ourselves.
- Have we been truthful about our money habits with our spouse?
- Have we been truthful about our money habits with ourselves?
- Do we make secret purchases?
- Do we feel justified in our decisions because we have a well-paying job and we view it as “my money anyway”?
- Do we feel his/her constant spending will take us off-track from our financial goals and so we have chosen to deal with it on our own? E.g. Secret savings accounts?
- Do we feel every purchase is scrutinized and has to be justified, so it’s just easier to not tell him/her?
The following list could indicate that you or your spouse may be struggling with financial infidelity and perhaps need some assistance in getting back together, financially speaking.
- Do one of you control the budget exclusively – doling out the funds to run the home from pay period to pay period without considering the other’s input?
- Are there unexplained withdrawals from bank and investment accounts?
- Are there repeated random purchases or items which appear in the home?
If you or your spouse can identify with any of the items delineated above, take heart because it is not too late to regroup, redirect and refocus on your financial goals!
To Know Me is to Love Me
Because each of us comes into the marriage with our own view of money it’s not uncommon for us to have differences we didn’t realize until we blended our income and set out to live as a financial couple – no longer the sole master of our paycheck and our actions. We didn’t have to explain our spending habits before we were married and may feel no obligation to change now. However, if all income is needed to successfully reach various life goals, then any action that would cause a detour (no matter how small it may seem) can sometimes feel like a huge betrayal.
Call To Action
- Power of Agreement. It is critical that there is a mutual agreement of honesty and transparency in your financial dealings and any purchases beyond a pre-determined amount should be agreed upon by both partners.
- Review & Communicate. Each month go over the monthly budget to ensure you have stayed on track and if you have strayed, discuss it openly and decide how best to get back on track.
- Plan for Your Money Personality Differences. If you designate “fun” money each month then it can remove the temptation to be dishonest and to hide actions contrary to your financial goals. The understanding should be that it is a specific amount and that there are no strings attached – i.e., requiring an explanation of the purchase.
- Reach Out for Professional Assistance. When both parties are open to seeking professional assistance in dealing with the matters of finance in their marriage, they can come away with a different perspective, strategy or new skill set in understanding how to rebuild trust and to work collaboratively toward the life goals they have identified. This help may come from a financial advisor and/or marriage counselor who can provide an objective third-party assessment.
With a well thought-out and consistent conversation to commit to transparency, honesty and budget discipline, this “other love” loses its control and can be removed from the equation.
We believe you and your spouse can once again enjoy the strengths and excitement that your differences bring to the marriage. You can read more about this topic here in our January blog, Know Thyself.
If you are ready to take the next step and want to partner with a third party who will help you take an unbiased look at your situation, we invite you to call to set up your free initial consultation.
Do you have success stories regarding your different money personalities and how you have been able to build and maintain a strong relationship that you would like to share with us and our readers? If so, I invite you to correspond with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.