The Telltale Signs of Financial Infidelity Sneaking around and being dishonest about your finances can be extremely damaging to your marriage. Here's what to look for and steps to take. BY KIMBERLY FOSS
Cheating behind your spouse's back about money can be seriously damaging to your marriage.
“ From hidden debt to secret expenditures, lying about finances can cause a marriage to go into default.”
For couples today, a cheating spouse can mean more than the betrayal of a physical affair. While it may not be the first type of infidelity one thinks of, there is a new form of unfaithfulness that many couples are feeling the pain of: financial infidelity. From hidden debt to secret expenditures, lying about finances can cause a marriage to go into default.
Fortunately, there are certain indicators that can help a spouse detect the onset of financial infidelity and take action to fix any financial issues they may be facing. If a spouse’s behavior with money begins to shift and become out of character, it is vital to confront them and manage the problems before they snowball out of control.
What Abnormal Behavior or Actions Should You Look For?
A spouse having a financial affair might behave very similar to one having a "traditional" affair.
Is your spouse noticeably withdrawn? Have there been recent instances where your partner’s cell phone is inexplicably shut off for extended periods of time without any explanation as to why?
Has your spouse become easily agitated? When you bring up the topic of purchases or spending, does he or she get excessively defensive?
Have your spouse’s spending habits suddenly changed? Do you notice that household necessities, such as groceries, are no longer being purchased with regularity? Are luxury items, such as new electronics and designer clothes, being bought without any prior notification?
Top Financial Infidelity Red Flags
Whether it stems from denial, ambivalence or obliviousness, partners often fail to confront their significant other’s fiscal dishonesty before it reaches extreme levels. There are a few red flags that should make even the most unconvinced spouse concerned about their partner’s financial behavior.
Your spouse lies to others about expenditures or income. If you catch your companion blatantly lying to a neighbor or friend about where he or she purchased something or how much it cost, you should privately confront them about their statements.
You discover secret bank accounts or hidden debt. A long-term relationship needs to be steeped in honesty; if you find out that your partner has kept certain financial holdings or blemishes hidden, it may be indicative of fiscal dishonesty.
You realize your spouse is spending more than you both can afford. This type of behavior, especially if it persists after you have a discussion about the need to reduce household expenses, may be the biggest telltale sign of them all.
How to Deal with Financial Infidelity
Enduring financial infidelity can be damaging to any couple. However, there are certain steps to take after the realization that your spouse’s financial state is in disarray that can help you overcome the financial affair and begin to rebuild trust.
Taking that first step and talking to your spouse about finances can be extremely difficult, but it is necessary if you want to find a way to survive the crisis. Explain to your companion the feelings you have regarding being lied to about your finances and try and have a dialogue that drives at the root of the deception.
After the problem is addressed and admitted, many couples will find it a beneficial next step to seek financial and marriage counseling. It’s important to be pragmatic about what can be done to salvage your financial situation, and a financial expert can help outline all the recovery options available. Utilize traditional marriage counseling services as well because, at its core, financial infidelity is not much different than other forms of cheating.
Kimberly Foss is a Certified Financial Planner and personal finance expert with 28 years industry experience. Kimberly founded Empyrion Wealth Management (Roseville, Calif.) over 20 years ago and focuses on managing the financial lives of pre-retirees, retirees and women in transition. For more information please visit Empyrion Wealth Management or call 916-786-7626.