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Financial Infidelity

Money Conflicts Impact Marital Bliss

Studies show conflict surrounding the finances of a couple, whether married or partnered, is directly linked to:

  • Longer arguments
  • More intense arguments
  • Decreased marital satisfaction as well as
  • Increase in divorce rates.

In fact, financial disagreements are the third most frequent topic couples argue about.  Financial infidelity is just one of the many types of financial disagreements couples face.

Understanding Financial Infidelity

Recently, professionals coined the phrase “financial infidelity.”  This is defined as “a form of financial cheating that one partner commits with his or her current partner.”  Financial infidelity includes:

  • Hiding purchases
  • Maintaining secret credit cards
  • Keeping secret bank accounts as well as
  • Any other purposeful financial deceit between the partners.

Experts say the two most common forms of financial infidelity are hiding paychecks and saving money to be spent later on one’s own guilty pleasures.  As many as 40 percent of American adults hide accounts, spending habits, or debts from their partner or spouse, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.  Millennials are almost twice as likely to engage in this behavior, as compared to adults from other generations.

Recognizing Financial Infidelity

There are a variety of situations that may suggest your partner or spouse is being financially unfaithful to you. While none of the situations discussed below are certainly signs of financial infidelity, they each warrant a conversation about what is going on that led to the unusual behavior.

Your Partner Changes their Spending Habits to Include Showering You with Gifts

Everyone loves an unexpected gift from a spouse or partner.  However, if your spouse or partner is engaging in unusually generous behavior, it may be time to question their motives.  Sometimes, when people are financially unfaithful, they spend some of that money on their partner or spouse in an attempt to ease their guilt or justify their spending.  An occasional spousal gift should not be considered cause for alarm.  A steady stream of new gifts, or a particularly expensive gift, however, justifies a bit of investigation.  If you can’t readily identify the source your partner or spouse used, such as your checking account, your credit card, or whatever, it is time to push the issue.

Your Partner Engages in Activities that Could Lead to Addictive Behavior

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a day at the horse races or playing an online video game for a monthly fee.  However, both of these situations and many others can lead to addictive behavior and unplanned spending.  Gamblers often up the stakes in an attempt to recover their losses.  Many video games (and cell phone apps) offer additional items that provide gamers an in-game advantage at a low cost – but these costs can add up.  If your partner is engaging in activity that could lead to impulse spending, have a frank talk with them about your concerns.

Your Partner Refuses to Talk about Money

Very few couples actually enjoy discussing short term or long-term finances, however, it is a necessary part of a healthy marriage.  If your partner actively avoids discussing your finances, something may be wrong.  This is particularly true if your spouse or partner is exhibiting this behavior and this is inconsistent with how they have behaved in the past.

Your Partner Insists on Getting the Mail

If your spouse or partner suddenly wants to get the mail every day or opens up a PO box of their own, there may be something wrong.  Getting the mail allows one to filter the message that might otherwise get to an unsuspecting spouse.

With the ease of the internet, and the environmentally friendly push to reduce paper, your partner or spouse may be monitoring their overspending online.  If they open up a new email account, or change their password on their account, or engage in shrinking the screen when you come into the room, they may be hiding spending habits from you.

Money Disappears Inexplicably

If your partner is making unusual cash withdrawals, this could be an indication of financial infidelity.  They may be using it to spend, or they may be using it to pay back the debt.  Additionally, you can monitor bank activity to confirm any credit cards that are being paid are credit cards you already know about.

Why You Should Worry about Financial Infidelity

You may be responsible for some of your spouse or partner’s spending.  This may be true regardless if you choose to stay married or consider divorce.  As such, it is important to be vigilant about your finances.  At a minimum, paying back those debts will take money out of the family budget.  This is money that could have been spent elsewhere.

Considering Divorce?

If financial infidelity has led you to consider divorce, schedule a consultation with the family law lawyers at Fait & DiLima.  Our family law attorneys focus exclusively on divorce and family law.  We are up to date on the latest case law and statutes governing divorce in the state of Maryland.  We offer consultations in Rockville and Frederick, to make it easier for you.  Let us help you calm the storm.  We can answer all your questions.  We can also lay out a path forward to help you move on with your life.  Call us today at (301) 888-6384.

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