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Posted: 1:43 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Financial infidelity can harm a relationship

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Have you ever committed "financial infidelity" on your spouse (or significant other) by lying about or hiding money, credit cards or bills?

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Yes, I have done this.

No, I would never do that.

We keep separate finances so this is not an issue for us.

No, but my partner has done this to me.

By Clark Howard


Are you cheating on your spouse or significant other financially?

There were 2 studies I saw recently, one reported by superb financial writer Jean Chatzky and the other from Consumerist.com. In each case, people admitted they sneak around on their partner with how they handle money by keeping "little secrets" about purchases.

This can come in the form of shopping and destroying any evidence that what you have is a new purchase, so you walk in with something you pretend you already had. Or you have a credit card bill sent to your work, instead of your home, because your partner doesn't know about that line of credit.

The problem is these secret aren't as little or harmless as they seem. Consumerist.com reports that lying or deceiving your spouse about money leads to divorce in 1 in 6 cases.

Couples should have a clear understanding with each other about financial priorities. No one person should feel like all the decision-making power sits with just the other party. It should be shared.

Instead of feeling that the path of least resistance is best and just sneaking it, I say that for the long-term health of the relationship and for positive communication, you have to sit down and have a conversation.

I recommend each person in a relationship (where the finances are shared) have the equivalent of an allowance. It should be a predetermined amount of money that you and your partner are free to spend without having to seek approval from each other. That way you create trust and no one can judge you for buying new shoes (or whatever it is) as long as the purchase price comes under that threshold.

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