Relationships need love, care, mutual respect and support to thrive. But it also needs to have trust to grow. While emotional and sexual infidelity can destroy relationships, financial infidelity can also sink a romantic relationship.
Money matters! Even when you are married. Scratch that! Especially when you are married. When couples lie about their income, savings and expenses, it can lead to tension down the line and shatter the relationship.
This is why it is crucial to understand your partner’s or spouse’s financial behavior, instances of repeated financial infidelity and learn how to overcome it in order to build a healthy relationship.
What is financial infidelity?
In relationships, financial cheating or infidelity occurs when one partner in a relationship hides, lies or intentionally misleads the other partner about their financial situation or behaviors. This can include activities such as –
- Secret spending
- Hiding purchases, debts or assets
- Concealing or lying about income
- Secretly opening a credit card account
- Taking out a loan without the partner’s knowledge
Financial cheating can lead to a breach of trust and cause significant damage to a relationship, especially if the deception is discovered.
It can be as devastating to a relationship as other forms of infidelity, as it can lead to feelings of betrayal and resentment. It can also cause significant financial strain and damage credit scores and financial futures.
It is important for partners to have open and honest communication about their financial situations and behaviors to avoid financial cheating and maintain a healthy relationship.
This includes being transparent about income, debts, and spending habits, and working together to create a budget and financial plan that both partners agree upon.
It’s also important to establish boundaries and expectations around finances and to seek professional help if needed to address any underlying financial issues or conflicts.
Signs of financial infidelity in marriage
Here are some of the most common signs of financial cheating in a romantic relationship:
1. Secrecy about money
If your partner is secretive about their money or avoids discussing financial matters with you, it could be a sign of financial cheating. This may include avoiding questions about their income or debts, or hiding bank statements or credit card bills.
2. Unexplained expenses
If your partner has unexplained expenses or there are charges on their credit card or bank account that you don’t recognize, it may indicate that they are spending money without your knowledge.
3. Sudden changes in spending habits
If your partner suddenly starts spending more money than usual or begins to make large purchases without discussing them with you, it could mean that they are not being honest about their finances.
4. Hiding financial information
If your partner has opened a bank account or credit card without your knowledge or has hidden financial information from you, it could be a sign of financial infidelity in couple relationships.
5. Arguments about money
If you and your partner frequently argue about money or have different ideas about how to handle finances, it could be a hint that there is financial dishonesty in the relationship.
It’s important to note that these signs alone do not necessarily indicate financial cheating. However, if you have concerns about your partner’s financial behavior or suspect that they may be hiding something from you, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about your concerns.
Causes of financial infidelity
According to a 2020 study, financial cheating can be defined as “engaging in any financial behavior expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behavior to them.”
One of the reasons for financial cheating is due to conflict between personal preferences, desires and goals about finances and those of the relationship dictated by their partner. “The disagreement represents a form of normative conflict,” explains the study.
For instance, while the couple may set certain joint financial goals to limit their expenses and to increase their savings, one of both partners may have the urge to spend some money for personal immediate gratification. This is just one of the financial infidelity examples.
The study adds “When normative conflicts arise, partners must make a choice: forgo their own preference, follow their own preference at the risk of partner disapproval, or follow their own preference and hide the behavior.”
As the cheating partner decides to hide their clandestine financial behaviors, it leads to a disapproval from the other partner, making them feel betrayed and cheated upon. This is what leads to financial cheating.
However, there are many other factors and reasons for infidelity occurring in a marriage or a relationship, such as –
1. Different attitudes towards money
Couples who have different attitudes towards money and finances can experience financial cheating. One partner may feel that they need to save every penny, while the other may feel that they should enjoy their money.
2. Secret spending habits
One partner may have secret spending habits, such as gambling, shopping, or eating out, which they keep hidden from their partner.
3. Financial obligations
Prior financial obligations, such as credit card debt, student loans, or child support payments, can create stress in a marriage and lead to financial cheating.
4. Lack of communication
Lack of communication about finances can also be a major cause. Couples who don’t talk openly about their financial goals, concerns, and priorities may be more likely to keep financial secrets from each other.
5. Power and control issues
In some cases, financial cheating can be a way for one partner to exert power and control over the other partner. This may happen when one partner takes charge of the finances and doesn’t allow the other partner to have any input.
6. Fear of judgment
One partner may be afraid of being judged by the other partner for their financial decisions or actions, leading them to keep financial secrets.
7. Lack of trust
Lack of trust in a relationship can also lead to financial cheating. If one partner doesn’t trust the other partner with money, they may be more likely to keep financial secrets.
It’s important for couples to discuss their financial goals and priorities openly and honestly. Regular communication about finances can help prevent financial cheating and strengthen the trust and intimacy in a marriage.
How financial infidelity affects relationships
Financial cheating can have a significant impact on marriages. It can lead to a breakdown in trust and communication, and can cause significant emotional and financial strain on the relationship.
A recent study has found that about 40 to 60% of couples engage in marital financial deception and infidelity. While this behavior may be common, it has seriously negative consequences on the relationship nevertheless.
“Money lies” or financial cheating is a form of marital or relationship betrayal that can have “relationally destructive potential.” It not only adversely affects relationship satisfaction, it can also negatively affect personal dedication and commitment and lead to stress and marital conflict in the home.
Here are some other ways financial cheating can affect a relationship:
1. Lack of communication
Financial cheating can lead to a breakdown in communication. If one partner has been lying or hiding important financial information, it can lead to a breakdown in communication about other areas of the relationship.
2. Loss of trust
Financial cheating involves lying or hiding important financial information from a partner, which can erode trust in the relationship. Trust is a fundamental component of any healthy relationship, and without it, the relationship can suffer.
3. Financial strain
If one partner is hiding debt or spending money without the other’s knowledge, it can cause significant financial strain on the relationship. It may lead to arguments about money and can impact the couple’s ability to achieve their financial goals.
Financial infidelity can lead to feelings of resentment in the partner who has been lied to or deceived. They may feel as though their partner does not value them enough to be honest about their financial situation.
5. Impact on credit score
If one partner has been hiding debts or opening credit accounts without the other’s knowledge, it can impact the credit score of both partners. This can make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future, which can impact their ability to achieve financial goals.
6. Emotional distress
Financial cheating can cause significant emotional distress for both partners. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, which can impact the overall health of the relationship.
7. Relationship dissolution
The financial strain caused by financial cheating can also impact the fate of a relationship or a marriage. If one partner has been hiding debt or spending money without the other’s knowledge, it can cause significant financial strain on the relationship.
It may lead to arguments about money and can impact the couple’s ability to achieve their financial goals, leading to a breakup, separation or divorce.
Evidence also suggests that such financial behaviors may also be associated with dating violence, intimate partner violence, marital violence, physical abuse and courtship aggression. There have been several financial infidelity examples where aggression and abuse was involved.
“Financial management behaviors have an impact on the quality of relationships as well as on the subjective well-being of people in a relationship, and their relationship dynamics,” explain researchers.
It’s important for couples to be open and honest about their finances and to seek professional help if needed to address any underlying financial issues or conflicts. With open communication and a commitment to honesty, couples can work through financial cheating and strengthen their relationship.
How to deal with financial infidelity
Dealing with financial infidelity in a relationship can be challenging, especially when you feel betrayed and when your trust has been broken. But it’s essential to address the issue and work towards resolving it. Here are some steps that can help you in surviving financial infidelity in a relationship –
1. Be honest and open
The first step is to have an honest and open conversation about the financial situation and the emotions surrounding it. Both partners need to be willing to discuss the issue openly and without judgment.
2. Understand the root cause
It’s important to understand why the financial cheating occurred in the first place. Was it due to different attitudes towards money, fear of judgment, or lack of trust? Understanding the root cause can help you address the issue more effectively.
3. Set clear boundaries and expectations
Both partners need to set clear boundaries and expectations regarding their finances. This includes agreeing on a budget, creating financial goals together, and establishing a system for managing money. This step is crucial for overcoming financial infidelity.
4. Rebuild trust
Rebuilding trust takes time and effort, but it’s essential for the relationship to move forward. Both partners need to be committed to being honest and transparent about their finances and actions.
5. Forgive and let go
Forgiveness is crucial in any relationship, especially after an incident of financial cheating. Once the issue has been addressed and steps have been taken to rebuild trust, it’s important to forgive your partner & yourself and move ahead together.
6. Seek professional help
If the financial cheating has caused significant damage to the relationship, seeking professional help from a financial advisor, therapist, or marriage counselor can be beneficial.
Bounce back from money lies
Financial cheating can cause significant damage to a relationship. However, it’s essential to address the issue openly and honestly and work towards rebuilding trust and communication.
Couples who are committed to being transparent about their finances, setting clear boundaries, and seeking professional help, when needed, can overcome financial infidelity and strengthen their relationship.
By understanding the root cause of financial cheating and taking the necessary steps to prevent it, you can create a healthy and stable financial future together.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Is financial infidelity a crime?
No, financial infidelity is not a crime in the legal sense, but it can still have serious consequences on a personal and financial level within a relationship.
Is financial infidelity the same as cheating?
Financial infidelity and cheating are not the same in the traditional sense, but both involve breaking trust in a relationship. Financial infidelity relates specifically to hiding or lying about financial actions or decisions.
Is financial infidelity abuse?
Financial infidelity can be a form of financial abuse if it involves controlling or manipulating the other partner’s finances, but not all cases of financial infidelity are considered abuse.