Financial Infidelity in Marriage: What It Is, Warning Signs, and What to Do About It

Marriage and money are deeply intertwined. They both, after all, are important parts of our everyday lives. Marriage and money are so entwined that cheating on your partner doesn’t just mean emotionally and physically; you can also financially cheat on your spouse.

Financial infidelity occurs when couples with joint finances (no matter their income levels) lie to one another about money. This type of infidelity can look different depending on the couple, their personal and joint situations, individual habits and tendencies, and more. For example, one partner could have extensive sums of credit card debt hidden from their partner, or perhaps one partner isn’t transparent about large expenditures. Other forms of financial infidelity could look like keeping a bonus or raise a secret, fueling gambling, pornography, and other addictions, lying about how much something cost, and so on

Unfortunately, financial infidelity might be more common than you suspect. According to one recent study, nearly one in three Americans with combined finances have admitted to lying to their spouses about money. Another third of respondents stated they had been financially deceived

Whatever the exact issue is, financial infidelity is sure to cause conflict and strife within the relationship, creating tensions and difficulties that cannot always be fixed. According to that same survey, 16% of those affected by financial infidelity said the deceit led to divorce, while 11% said it led to separation.

For many people, such lies can feel just as painful and deceptive as any other kind of cheating. The effects can be long-lasting and life-altering, especially when hidden debts or shopping addictions have accumulated to large sums of money. It also begs the question, if he/she is lying about money, what else could they be hiding?

Top Five Signs of Financial Infidelity

So why do people lie about money to their partners? Well, it happens for many reasons, such as fear, guilt, embarrassment, control, self-preservation, social pressures, addiction, and more. Luckily, it is not impossible to sniff out financial infidelity by keeping an eye on these ­­­five warning signs.

Insistent on Handling Finances Alone

One common warning sign for financial infidelity comes when one partner insists on handling the finances alone, leaving the other person entirely out of the loop. By taking complete control of the joint finances, it is easier to lie and keep expenses hidden from their partner.

Defensive When Asked About Money

A defensive, evasive attitude when talking about money or asked any financial questions is one of the most common red flags amongst financially unfaithful partners. Always pay attention to how your partner acts and what tone they take when you ask them a question. Even the most basic of money questions can cause someone who is financially dishonest to become defensive, loud, and reactive or act strangely in order to diffuse tension and get eyes off them.

Lies to Others About Money

If you’ve noticed that your partner lies or deceives others, such as friends and family, about the extent of their income and financial status, it’s not impractical to think that they could also lie to you. Being comfortable with financial lies is a good overall indicator that they could be so comfortable with lying for a reason.

They Have a Secret Credit Card

Finding hidden credit card statements about a card you didn’t know existed is a pretty evident sign of financial infidelity. In these situations, one partner has taken out a credit card to pay for expenditures without notifying their significant other. This can result in huge financial burdens for both parties as someone is going to have to pay off those credit loans.

Trust Your Intuition

Sometimes you may just feel that something is off. Especially if you are noticing that your partner is acting differently or you aren’t able to explain certain purchases, these red flags can be waving at you, telling you that something is not right. And in these instances, you should trust your intuition because it may be picking up on something.

How You Can Hopefully Avoid Financial Infidelity

Being open and honest with each other about your finances is how you can encourage an open style of communication when it comes to money and how you can hopefully avoid the entanglement that is financial infidelity. And of course, following the golden rule of treating your partner how you would like to be treated can significantly shape the health and wellbeing of the relationship. For instance, if you are entirely open to your partner about all of your bills, spending charges, and other expenditures, then you can expect them to do the same.

Before you get married, make sure you know what your partner’s actual financial situation looks like. You’re going to want to know about their history, debts, and income before you tie the knot and combine finances.

Deciding together to discuss finances openly, pay bills together, or do regular financial checkups can ensure that communication and trust are emphasized and that there is a clear and defined space for future financial and life goals. And if you do find yourself in a financial infidelity situation, know that it can be overcome with honest, collective hard work from both parties.

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