Do you keep money secrets from your partner? Do you spend money without your partner’s knowledge? Do you hide purchases? Do you tell your partner you spent less on something than you actually did? Do you have secret stashes of money that your partner knows nothing about? Have you made investment decisions behind your partner’s back? They may seem like little green lies, but for many relationships they are much bigger. If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, financial infidelity may be putting your relationship at risk.
Financial Infidelity Is More Common Than You May Think
In a survey of 1,001 people by Money magazine, 40% of the respondents admitted that they have told their partner that they paid less for a purchase than they actually did. Sixteen percent confessed to buying something that they did not want their spouse to know about.
While both men and woman admit to financial dishonesty, women are more likely to tell their husbands that they paid less than they actually did for clothing and gifts, while men minimize their spending on cars, entertainment and sporting events. In the Money magazine survey, almost twice as many men as women admitted that they had spent over $1,000 without their spouse’s knowledge, while women were more likely to say that the most they had spent without telling their husbands was $100.
Forty-five percent of those who admitted being deceitful around spending stated that they were not honest about their spending in order to avoid their partner’s anger, disapproval or lecturing. In the same survey, 44% reported that they believe it is okay to keep financial secrets from their spouses.
It is not surprising that people keep secrets about money. Many couples avoid talking about money because it is such an emotionally loaded issue. If and when financial infidelity is discovered by one of the partners, it rocks the very foundation of their relationship. It can shatter an illusion of trust: “If he/she is being deceitful about this, what else are they lying to me about?
A Four-Step Process for Addressing Financial Infidelity
Financial infidelity is such a common issue in our work with couples that my father and Mind Over Money co-author Ted Klontz, Ph.D., and I developed a four-step process for addressing financial infidelity in relationships. This process uses the acronym SAFE:
Couples Can’t Afford to Be Financially Unfaithful
With money being the number one cause of marital conflict and the number one cause of divorce in the early years of marriage, couples cannot afford to be financially unfaithful. Use the SAFE process to establish an agreement around money with your partner to maintain financial fidelity in your relationship.