Infidelity can take many forms with the one unifying characteristic being that it includes deception and betrayal of trust. If you keep something important and related to finances from your partner and it threatens his trust in you, then you are committing an infidelity. It may be a financial rather than a sexual infidelity, but this kind of cheating can be just as devastating as any affair.
Would you be surprised to learn that one in three Americans has committed some kind of financial deception in a relationship? According to a survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 31 percent of people in committed relationships with combined finances have deceived their significant others in some way with respect to money. Here are the highlights:
- More than half of the respondents hid money and/or minor purchases from their partners.
- Thirty percent of people hid bills or statements.
- A third of the participants admitted to lying about debt, earnings and other important financial information.
- More than two-thirds of people said that financial deceptions affected either a current or past relationship, many citing lost trust as a major consequence of the deception.
- Nearly 20 percent of the participants said that the financial deception led them to separate their finances, while 16 percent said it led to divorce.
- Women are more likely to lie about finances, debt or how much money they earn.
Have You Committed Financial Infidelity?
There is no hard-and-fast rule for what constitutes financial infidelity. Is lying about or hiding one small purchase in a five-year relationship really an infidelity? Is minimizing your debt infidelity? It depends and it is individual. A good general rule to follow is that if it makes you feel guilty and question whether your partner would lose trust in you if he found out the truth, you can probably consider it an infidelity, albeit minor in many cases. Repeated lying or deceiving your partner about big financial issues that may actually affect your lives is most definitely damaging and should be considered infidelity.
Working Toward Financial Trust
Problems related to money, whether they include deceptions or not, are major causes of conflict in relationships. The best way to avoid money conflict that can lead to fights, loss of trust and in some cases separations, is to be open and honest about everything financial. This can be difficult if you were raised to believe that talking about money is uncivilized or even rude. It’s an old-fashioned attitude and one that needs to change. Both partners in a relationship should know about financial decisions, earnings and debt and should be involved in all decision-making. The first step toward financial honesty and trust is to sit down with your partner for a conversation. If you have lied about or hidden anything related to money, open up about it now. Once it’s all out in the open, start an ongoing conversation about your combined finances. Make decisions together about where to put your money, investments, spending and earning. Think about your shared goals for the future and how your financial decisions will help you meet them. Sometimes, money problems in a relationship have done more damage than you can repair with a few conversations about finances. If your partner feels he can’t trust you anymore or you continue fighting about money, think about seeing a couple’s counselor. A trained professional may be just what you need to get back on the same page and communicating again about everything important, including money.