Is there Financial Infidelity in your marriage?
According to the statistics, probably so.
Have you ever lied to your spouse about money? Do you have a bank account or credit card that your spouse doesn’t know about? 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.
Financial Infidelity is Very Common
Take a look at the people that are around you on a regular basis. The 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?
Say it ain’t so.
Yes… even Saint Marge.
Financial infidelity happens every day. In fact, almost 40% of those surveyed said if their secret spending was revealed, they were concerned it would cause their spouse to seek a divorce or separation. Holy cow! That’s a serious problem. As you’ve probably heard many times before, financial problems are the number one cause of divorce in this country.
So why do we do it? Why do we do these things with 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, thus you’re not in any kind of agreement when it comes to money. Or maybe the offending party has a lack of control (spending problem, addiction, etc.) in their life that they are ashamed to admit to.
Whatever it is, it’s not worth driving a wedge between you and your spouse. It’s not worth the lost trust, marital discord, and possible divorce that could 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 total agreement. But at the very least it means being honest with each other.
“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
So in order to foster an air of financial communication in your marriage and avoid financial infidelity, here are a few tips you can use to open up the lines of communication and come into agreement when it comes to 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 open up the lines of communication. When you actually have a plan for your money instead of flying by the seat of your pants, you’re less likely to end up in money fights due to no one being held responsible and no one knowing where all the money went.
- Be a Financial Open Book- Your spouse should know everything about you 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, at the very least you should be able to trust your spouse with this info.
- Earn Your Spouse’s Trust- Be willing to listen to your spouse. If they let you in on some financial facts 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- When you get married, according to the Bible you become one. So when it comes to money there is no “His” money and “Her” money or “His” bills and “Her” bills. When you both have your paychecks deposited into one account and pay all of your budgeted bills and expenses out of it, both of you are more able to keep tabs on what’s going on financially. Pooling your money helps to engender trust and communication about finances and actually can help each spouse 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”, you more easily open your marriage up to issues of deceit and mistrust that can work to tear apart the relationship and sometimes even end it.
But if you are able to put all of your financial issues out on the table for review and discussion, it becomes so much easier to begin trusting your spouse when it comes to money and eliminate those money fights that inevitably happen when no one really knows what’s going on financially.
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, or even had a disagreement about, money.
So if you’re hiding financial information from your spouse, maybe it’s time to start fessing up and begin 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 can only benefit in the long run.