How to Deal With Financial Infidelity

When a partner is dishonest about money, it can be hard to move past it.

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One of the most devastating things you can deal with in a relationship is infidelity. It can be difficult to overcome and may even end of the relationship. While emotional or physical infidellity is devastating, many couples today are facing another kind of infidelity.

Twenty percent of live-in romantic partners in the U.S. had concealed a bank account or credit card from their partner, while more than 60% of those who had kept a financial secret from their partner said that their partner was still in the dark about it. 

if you have been a victim of financial infidelity, you might find yourself having trouble trusting your partner again or wondering about other types of financial infidelities that they may be committing. Here's how to deal with financial infidelity.

Clear the Air

A good first step is for the person who has committed financial infidelity to come completely clean about all of their financial mistakes. Once everything is truly out in the open, then you can begin to repair the damage done.

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—for example, a large amount of debt was accrued—then the couple may consider seeing a counselor to begin rebuilding the relationship.

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. Or 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.

Financial infidelity can also mean your partner steals your identity and takes out loans or opens credit cards in your name without your knowledge. Regularly monitor your credit report to prevent this.

Create a Debt Payoff Plan 

The next step in overcoming financial infidelity is creating a debt payoff plan. 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 ensure that debt payments are being made and no further debt is being accumulated.

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 for extra cash, or getting a part-time job in addition to your regular job.

Plan for the Future 

Holding regular budget meetings about the financial situation is essential to get both 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 perhaps move to once weekly.

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, the relationship may end.

If you've experienced financial infidelity, you may need to separate your finances until trust can be re-established in your relationship. 

Consider All Options

Dealing with financial infidelity can bring about a whole host of emotions. A counselor or third party can help you work through these emotions. If the problem continues to happen, separation and time away from the relationship may make it easier for each person to make a commitment to the relationship, or decide it's not what is best for them and their financial future.

If one party is unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to change past behaviors or forgive the other person, it is OK 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.

Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero.

Article Sources

  1. AARP. "Keeping Money Secrets From Your Spouse." Accessed Nov. 21, 2019.