Dishonesty goes beyond the periphery of physical or emotional infidelity. There are other ways that you can step outside the lines of trust in your relationship as well. One of the biggest forms of infidelity that doesn’t involve running into the arms of another person:
It’s no secret that money can cause problems in a marriage. Sometimes the funds are too low, so the stress eats away at the connection. Sometimes there’s too much money going around and it isn’t shared evenly.
Other times, though, the act of hiding, stealing, or straight up lying about finances within a relationship becomes the demise of otherwise healthy marriages.
The reason that physical affairs tear apart marriages is due to the obvious line that is crossed. In a loving and supportive marriage, the trust that is shared between spouses is sacred. When someone cheats on their partner, they are taking advantage of the trust that their loved one had in them. They knew that their partner trusted them to stay faithful, yet they found themselves in bed with another person anyway.
Financial infidelity mirrors cheating on the fact that someone who is committing the act is taking advantage of the trust that is instilled in them by their partner. They’re acting despite the knowledge that their spouse expects them to keep all their financial cards on the table.
It can tear apart a marriage just as easily as a physical or emotional affair, but none many people acknowledge it for the toxicity it can bring to a relationship. Read on to find out what financial infidelity is and how to avoid making the mistake that may lead to the end of your happy union.
What is financial infidelity?
Think of financial infidelity as someone stepping out on their spouse, but doing so with their wallet instead of their body. In most cases, when two people get married, they decide to intertwine all aspects of their life–including their bank accounts. The whole “two become one” thing isn’t just for show.
When a couple decides to throw all of their money in a pile and spend from it as a harmonious pair, both parties expect that their counterpart won’t overdraw the account or run up the credit card bill. When someone within the relationship steps outside of those mutual money expectations, financial infidelity is the result.
If your wife trusts you to keep the books in order and you’re stashing away a pile of cash for a new set of golf clubs, you’re committing financial infidelity.
If your husband trusts you with the bills, but you’re running up a credit card bill on Amazon, you’re committing financial infidelity. When the expectations are built on a foundation of trust, and you know you’re taking advantage, you’re doing something that could potentially do great damage to your relationship.
How to avoid it
Now that you know if you’re being unfaithful with your marriage’s money, here’s how you can fix it or avoid it in the future.
1. Have monthly money meetings
In a way, you need to keep your finances in order just like you would a business. Both you and your spouse should be aware of where your money is coming from and where your money’s going.
Of course, one of you will probably settle into the role of “the money person” more easily, but to avoid the other person being blind to the financial situation, sit down once a month and just discuss logistics. Maybe there’s something you should spend less on. Maybe there’s an opportunity to save more money than you have been. Maybe you’ll realize that your addiction to morning lattes are costing your family a ton.
But if you don’t formally sit down and put it all out there for both parties to see, not everyone will be up to date with how things are going in your financial life.
2. Communicate loud and clear
Although you love each other very much, there’s a good chance that you have different ideas about how to spend your money, where to spend your money, and how to save for the future. If there’s an issue with how you think your partner is handling the budget, you need to speak up and let them know your concerns.
I’m not saying that your way is the right way. What I am suggesting is that if you’re frustrated by their money habits and you don’t speak up, you may find yourself spending more or doing your own thing out of resentment for their actions.
Get it out in the open. If they have suggestions, listen with intent. The more honest you are with each other, the more progress can be made.
3. Have (Or keep) your own personal bank accounts
If you and your partner are having trouble agreeing on how to spend or invest some of your money, then make a point to get your own personal bank accounts. This doesn’t mean that you should get rid of your joint bank account; all you have to do is stow away a small percentage of each paycheck–say, 5%–into your individual accounts and let the majority of the cash flow land back in your mutual pile of moolah.
Related: Marriage and Finances: Individual and Joint Bank Accounts During Marriage
By having a little bit of personal spending money, you don’t need to get permission from your partner if you want to treat yourself to a manicure or a ticket to the super bowl. This will take the mental pressure off of your joint bank account and give you some financial freedom to do as you please.
What you’ll find is that you’re more responsible with the ‘we’ money because you were able to do what you wanted with the ‘me’ money.
Money is one of the biggest reasons that people get divorced these days. It may seem innocent to overspend here or skip a bill there, but if you’re doing so without your partner’s knowledge, you could be heading toward the dead end of the divorce. Be open and honest with your money and you’ll find that your marriage will be stronger for the commitment to your communication.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.