Any type of infidelity can be damaging to a marriage, and financial infidelity is no different. Unfortunately, financial secrets may be more common than many spouses realize.
One study found that 41 percent of American adults who combine their finances with a significant other admit to financial infidelity. The same study also found that 75% of adults say that financial lies have affected their relationships.
What counts as financial infidelity?
In general, when spouses or significant others combine their finances, any financial action can affect both people. That is why there is often the expectation that both partners will have an equal say in how those finances are managed.
Financial infidelity involves breaking that expectation, especially when an action includes deception. A variety of actions can count as financial infidelity.
Some examples, include:
- Hiding purchases
- Lying about the price of a purchase
- Secretly taking saved money
- Opening a secret credit card or bank account
- Keeping a raise or a bonus secret
- Taking on debt without telling your spouse
- Filing for bankruptcy without telling your spouse
What can you do if you suspect your spouse is keeping financial secrets?
If you suspect your spouse is keeping financial secrets, it may be best to address your concerns with him or her. You may have noticed suspicious behavior, like sudden changes in spending habits or defensiveness when discussing finances. These could be red flags for financial infidelity, but there could also be another explanation. Discussing these concerns with your spouse can be the best way to clear up any misunderstandings.
Even if you found concrete proof, there can be value in creating an open dialogue with your spouse. There are a variety of reasons why spouses lie about their finances, and depending on your situation, there may be a way to mend broken trust and rebuild financial health.
If your marriage cannot recover, it may be reasonable to seek divorce. However, it is important to understand that all assets and debts that were acquired by you or your spouse during your marriage could be subject to division during the divorce process. This may mean that you are stuck with some of the financial consequences of your spouse’s infidelity.
Fortunately, there are divorce strategies that can help you. It can be valuable to share your concerns and goals with your divorce team, so that they can help you find the best strategy for your unique situation.