Mrs Obaro’s husband has been unfaithful to her for years and she never suspected. He has not been with another woman, not with a man either. But he has been busy sneaking around with their bank accounts and messing around with their hard earned money and children’s inheritance. It’s called financial infidelity, it can put severe strains on a marriage and has been one of the leading causes of divorce.
Financial Infidelity is more common than it seems, an online poll by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education, showed that 31 percent of participants with combined finances have lied to their partners about money. These lies were shown to include, hiding money, making secret purchases, having other bank accounts without the spouse’s knowledge , and lying about debts and earnings. A CESI Debt solution survey also showed that 80 percent of spouses spend money in secret.
David and Libby Koch wrote this insightful piece on what financial infidelity means and how to handle it. Here is an excerpt;
Hiding a new clothing purchase (“this old thing”), having a small, secret TAB account to have the occasional punt or splurging on a good night out with friends is one level of financial infidelity.
But then there’s operating secret credit cards, taking out loans to make risky investments and hiding sources of income. This is a much more serious and damaging level of financial infidelity.
That first lower level of infidelity can really be put down to a desire to maintain some form of financial independence, particularly important for the partner who isn’t the major breadwinner.
To be financially beholden to another person, even if it is your partner, can be intimidating and scary for many people.
Everyone should feel they have financial freedom. Libby, for example, has her own savings account to which David does not have access. We never talk about it, she uses it for gifts and going out with girlfriends.
Yes, couples need their own financial space. It allows you to breathe and spoil yourself with little pick-me-ups that keep life in perspective.
But there is a limit. When financial infidelity involves large amounts of money, either earned or spent, without a partner’s knowledge then that “cheating” becomes a serious breach of trust.
It becomes a concern when the money is used for things that fundamentally undermine the values of the relationship.
There are several warning flags that could signal financial infidelity (see below).
TELLTALE SIGNS OF PROBLEMS
Spending is inconsistent with their income
A partner insists on handling finances alone
Bank account balances fall all of a sudden
You find unexplained purchases on the bank statements
Your spouse’s working hours become erratic
You receive strange phone calls or letters demanding payment
If a couple of these red flags start to appear together, you must confront the situation immediately. Often the guilty partner will be relieved to unburden their secret which could have been tearing them apart mentally.
Most financial infidelity originates from a mistake a partner has been too embarrassed to admit, which has then festered and spiraled out of control. To sort the mess out, agree on financial goals and a budget.
If your goals and desires are significantly different, talk about how you’ll set priorities and compromise. Try to realize an understanding about what is important to both of you.
If you have different styles of spending, consider creating separate accounts so each has control over some cash.
Forgive and forget, within reason. But your partner should make some financial sacrifices, such as delaying other buys.
Have regular financial conversations. Follow our rule of setting aside 15 minutes a month to sit down with your partner to talk money and your financial goals and priorities.