4 Steps to Avoid Financial Infidelity – Guest Post

by Kylie on September 19, 2012

Do you have Financial Infidelity in your marriage?

According to the statistics, you probably do.

Have you ever been dishonest with your spouse about money?  Do you have a bank account or credit card that your spouse is not aware of?  According to a survey done by CESI Debt Solutions, 20% of married people have a secret credit card, and 80% of married people hide purchases, credit cards, or bank accounts from their spouse.

That means most of us are lying to our spouses about money.

Take a look at the people that you see regular basis.  The old church lady on the front pew with the pursed lips and the pointy glasses she’s been wearing since ’65?  Yeah, she’s probably done it at some point.

Your brother Bob who is honest to a fault?  Probably so.

What about your mother?  Yes, your sainted mother.  She would never lie to her spouse about money would she?

No, it couldn’t be!

Yep… even Mom.

It happens almost every day.  In fact, almost 40% of the people interviewed said if their secret spending was revealed, they believed it would cause their spouse to seek a separation or divorce.  Wow!  That’s a serious problem.  But it probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise, money problems have always been one of the top causes of divorce.

So why do so many of us do it? Why do we hide details of our finances when we know that our spouse, who we are supposed to be as one with, is not going to be in agreement about it?

Sometimes it’s because as a couple you have no financial plan, and one or both of you just totally ignore  the finances.  Or maybe the offending party has a lack of control such as a spending problem, addiction, etc. in their life that they just can’t admit to.

Whatever the reason may be, it just isn’t worth building a wall between you and your spouse.  It’s not worth the misplaced trust, marital discord, and potential divorce that can result from it.  When you got married you became as one flesh.  That means becoming of one body, one mind, together.  It doesn’t mean you always have to be in complete agreement.  But at the very least it means being honest with each other.

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“With all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”- Ephesians 4:2-3

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So in order to make it easier to communicate about money in your marriage, here are 4 steps you can take to open up the lines of communication and come into agreement with your spouse about finances.

  • Do a Written Budget- If you sit down with your spouse and do a written spending plan (otherwise known as a budget), it allows you to begin communicating better. When you actually have a plan for your money instead of just winging it, you’re less likely to end up fighting about money because no one is being held responsible and no one knows where all the money is going.
  • Be an Open Book Financially- Spouses should know everything about each other financially.  He or she should know about every bank account, every card, and have access to your individual credit report.  I know to some people that might sound almost like an invasion of privacy, but when you’re a married couple, you should at least be able to trust your spouse with this information.
  • Earn Your Spouse’s Trust- Be willing to listen to your spouse.  If they come clean on a secret such as hidden credit cards, hidden debt, or even savings that you didn’t know about, try not to be judgmental or argumentative.  Try to have a calm and discussion and figure out how to resolve the situation and move forward in a positive way so that the deception doesn’t happen again and new trust can be formed.
  • Pool Your Money-  Like it or not, when it comes to money there is no “His” money and “Her” money or “His” bills and “Her” bills.  You’re married, so act like it.  When both your paychecks are deposited into one account and you pay all of your budgeted bills and expenses out of it, both of you are more able to keep up with what’s going on financially.  Pooling your money helps to engender more trust and communication about the finances, and can actually help each spouse learn to be more honest and trustworthy because everything is out in the open available for discussion.

When it comes down to it, you have to remember that you and your spouse are not separate entities, you are one.  When you treat your financial life as “His” and “Hers”, it can open your marriage up to issues of deceit and mistrust that can damage your relationship and sometimes even end it.

But if you’re willing to put all the financial issues out on the table for review and discussion, it becomes so much easier to begin trusting your spouse financially and eliminate those money fights that always seem to happen when no one really knows what’s going on with the money.

My wife Angie and I have been doing a written budget for years now and have access to each other’s financial information (Including passwords) which we can review at any time.  It was a long road to get there, but we trust each other with money and we can both honestly say we can’t remember the last time we fought about money.

So if you’re hiding financial information from your spouse, maybe it’s time to start fessing up and start working together to become one financially.  It’s not always easy in the beginning, but when you lay it all on the table and learn to be more honest, open, and trustworthy about money with your spouse, your marriage will only benefit in the long run.

Dr. Jason Cabler is Christian personal finance blogger, writer, speaker, practicing dentist, and owner of Celebrating Financial Freedom.  From Nashville, Tennessee,  he’s been teaching people how to become debt free and live a debt free life  through his books and courses for the better part of a decade now.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David September 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

It saddens me everything time I read about married people having separate bank accounts and credit cards. We’ve been married for 7.5 years and have had joint accounts since we got engaged.

My wife doesn’t have any of her own credit cards, but is a supplementary card holder on my cards. I do all of the financial account keeping including paying bills, but am more than happy to discuss the current situation and normally do if we have been spending more than we can cope with. The only reason my wife has two separate bank accounts is because she sells things on the Internet and I’d prefer not to have our main account details distributed on the Internet; the other reason is my wife earns less money than me so from a tax perspective it is better for the high interest account to be in her name only.

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Travis @Debtchronicles September 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I hid all our our financial issues from my wife for years….and it got us nothing but 109K in credit card debt and a boat load of trust issues.

Over three years in a debt management program and continuously working on learning how to handle our finances together has allowed us to dig ourselves out of 70K of that debt and build a marriage stronger than ever. We’re not perfect, but we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel…..
Travis @Debtchronicles recently posted..7 Habits of Debt-Free PeopleMy Profile

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Nathan @ EquityApex September 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm

My father hid all our debt problems from my mother. For years, my mum was told that everything was fine. It did end up in a heap in the end.

The thing is that my mum has always been better with money than my father and thankfully that’s where I’ve learnt what I know from.

They’re still living with the legacy of that problem. I strongly believe that there has to be openness about money, even if you don’t know the nitty gritty details and one person takes care of the that. Two people should often get together and go over their finances, how much they earn, how much they are spending, saving, how much debt they have and their ability to repay it. Also allowing for future planning as well.

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Doreen Delbertson January 16, 2013 at 1:46 am

I was friends with a couple who had been married for many years and who had raised two sons together. They went to our church, and they seemed like the perfect couple. Then the wife began finding strange things out about her husband’s behavior. Her son, looking through a closet for something, found a pile of unopened bills, such as utility bills, dating back months. Digging deeper, she found that although he’d been leaving home each morning, he hadn’t gone to work for several months, and he had taken out and charged up a number of credit cards in her name. They both had good jobs, and she had trusted him to take care of the bills. As you can imagine, the more she found of her husband’s financial infidelity, the more devastated she felt.

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relationship Advice for women June 5, 2013 at 5:51 am

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