Crucial Steps to Deal With Financial Infidelity
One of the most devastating things you can deal with in love is infidelity. It can be difficult to overcome and may signal the end of your relationship. But while cheating partners are devastating, many young couples today are facing another kind of infidelity.
A 2017 survey says that nearly 60 percent of millennials are the victims of financial abuse—with romantic partners hiding debt, lying about money, and using finances to manipulate partners.
The victims of this type of abuse not only have to work hard to regain trust if they want to save their romantic relationships, but also need to sort out financial messes that have resulted from hidden debts, secret accounts and other types of financial infidelities that could ruin their credit scores.
Clearing the Air
The first step is, hold a meeting where the person who has been hiding financial transactions comes completely clean. Both people in the relationship should be honest about all of their financial mistakes in the past so that you know what you are working with and can begin to truly repair the damage done. This means bringing out every credit card, every loan you have and any other financial pieces of information you may have hidden in the past.
Next, both parties need to commit to work through this together. The person who was not aware of the situation may need time to adjust and wrap his or her head around the problem. This problem will not be fixed overnight and the person who hid things should not expect his or her partner to be able to adjust quickly and be ready and eager to fix the problem. If the problem is serious enough, the couple should consider seeing a counselor to begin rebuilding the relationship or to determine if it is best to end the relationship now.
Dig Deep to Understand
The reasons for the financial infidelity should be looked at and addressed. For example, if one partner is a compulsive shopper, he or she should join a group that will help work through the addiction. Additionally, that partner needs to be willing to change daily patterns so that shopping does not continue to be a problem.
If one partner has a gambling problem, he or she can join a group to help address the gambling addiction and create a new pattern of behavior.
It may also happen that your partner steals your identity and takes out loans in your name without your knowledge. The commitment of the partner who has made mistakes to this part of the process can help the relationship heal and give him or her a chance to forgive and recommit to the relationship.
Make a Debt Plan
The next step is putting together a new budget and a plan to clear up the debt. This needs to be done as a team. Access to all of the accounts needs to be given to both partners so that each person can check on balances and make payments on the debt.
Start by creating a debt payment plan for the debts. The budget may need to be tightened up so that there is extra money to put towards the debt. Additionally, you may need to bring in extra income to clear up the debts. This may require selling items, or getting a part-time job in addition to your regular job.
The more money you can find to throw at the debts the more quickly they will be cleared up. In order for this to work, both people need to work together on this. If one is reluctant to work on the finances you may need to address the underlying causes of not working together financially.
Plan for the Future
Regular budget meetings about the financial situation are essential to get the relationship and finances back on track. These meetings need to be calm. It does not help the situation to continue to bring up and dwell on past mistakes. The meetings should cover the money spent since the last meeting on all accounts. It should look at what categories in the budget have reached the spending limit, and it should review the balance in all of the accounts. At first, you may need to meet each day, and then once a week.
This is a process and it will take time to repair the relationship to where it was before this happened. Every time there is another indiscretion, the process begins again. If the behavior does not change permanently the marriage may eventually end. Some partners choose to keep separate finances, but this may be detrimental to the marriage. There are courses designed to help couples learn how to handle finances. You may need to separate portions of your finances until trust can be reestablished in your relationship.
Consider All Options
Each person is going to be dealing with different emotions throughout the entire process. A counselor can help you work through these emotions. If the problem continues to happen, a separation and time away from the relationship may make it easier for each person to make the commitment to the relationship. If one party is unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to change past behaviors or forgive the other person, it is okay to end the relationship. However, it is best not to make the decision lightly.
You will need to carefully work to handle finances during the divorce, especially when you cannot trust the other person in your relationship.