Is financial infidelity ruining your marriage?

Relationships, Divorce, Money

Women are often accused of being the reckless spenders in a relationship, a stereotype that isn’t fair, or accurate. A 2016 Coupon Cabin survey found that 53 percent of Americans admitted to regularly hiding spending from their spouse. And such “financial infidelity” seems to affect both sexes.

For men in the survey, gambling ranked as the biggest secret (55 percent of the husbands confessed to hiding betting expenditures); for women, the most common secret involved smoking (44 percent of the wives admitted to hiding cigarette purchases).

Average amount concealed? $264 a month! That’s a hefty trail to cover up.

And spending is just one arm of financial infidelity.

For love or money

A 2016 Harris Poll conducted for the National Endowment for Financial Education found that more than four in 10 U.S. adults purposely deceive their partners in matters of household finances. And 75 percent said the secrets had a negative impact on their relationship, according to a recent Avvo study.

Yet many people in relationships don’t seem to care; Coupon Cabin reports that 28 percent of respondents have a secret bank account earmarked specifically for their hidden spending, while 36 percent have a secret credit card.

Why lie? SunTrust Bank reported that 35 percent of respondents in their relationship survey name finances as the leading cause of stress and friction in their relationship. If you’re married, you know that money can be a hot-button issue even in the best of times. Justifying a minor purchase can feel like a battle that just doesn’t need to be fought.

The many forms of cheating

A LendEDU survey about personal finance and relationships found that almost a third of respondents said honesty about personal finance is far more important than honesty about fidelity. Unfortunately, financial infidelity often rides tandem with the other kind. Market Watch found that people who are cheating are also secretly spending more money on their lover than their spouse.

While not every reason for hiding spending or money is nefarious, the impact of lying about such major things as a hidden bank account can be catastrophic to a marriage. In fact, lack of compatibility in handling financial matters ranks as one of the top ten causes of divorce, per the experts at e-zine YourTango.

A prenup, which forces a couple to assess their finances and their attitudes toward spending, may help prevent such financial incompatibility and its devastating effects.