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Financial Infidelity

When the word infidelity is mentioned most people think of sexual betrayal. Since the recession of 2009, however, financial infidelity has started to share some of the spotlight. According to one source, financial infidelity is beginning to pass sexual infidelity as one of the leading causes of breakups. So what is financial infidelity and what is the impact on committed relationships?

Financial infidelity is often described in terms of ‘hiding money.’ For example, one partner in a committed relationship fails to disclose the whereabouts of a savings account, lies about a purchase or withdrawal from a joint bank account, or maintains a hidden line of credit. Another sign is the failure of one partner to disclose financial difficulty to the other partner.

The impact of this failure to disclose on a committed relationship can be quite severe. Many respondents in the survey viewed financial cheating as harshly as they viewed sexual infidelity. In fact many believed that financial infidelity could be a precursor to sexual infidelity because ‘if you can lie about money, you can lie about sex.’ Unfaithfulness in marriage is, after all, unfaithfulness in marriage, whatever state it may take.

As a marriage counselor I often see couples whose financial infidelity began in courtship when one partner lied to the other about tarnished credit or exorbitant debt. While that is rarely the reason a couple seeks therapy, early financial infidelity is often described as one of the many hurts or betrayals that has led to the current difficulties.

Talking about money can be as awkward as talking about sex for some couples. Some good habits for struggling couples are:

  1. Setting and keeping a budget
  2. Agreeing on future goals, and
  3. Developing a way for each partner to spend budgeted money with ‘no questions asked.’

Taking steps to safeguard your relationship from the temptation of financial cheating will not only build trust, it will increase intimacy and possibly inoculate against future infidelity.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

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