Financial infidelity is not often discussed, but is a very real problem in many relationships. We tend to think of infidelity as a partner cheating on another. However, the definition of infidelity is “the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other partner”.
Financial infidelity occurs when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll, 2 in 5 Americans admitted to committing financial infidelity against their partner. This includes anything from lying about whether something was on sale to taking on debt without the knowledge of the other partner.
More severe cases may include excessive spending on gifts, trips or gambling with unexplained withdrawals from your accounts. We have also seen instances of hiding money for the sake of keeping it from the other spouse, reckless and high-risk investing, and using marital money to pay for affairs or addictions. In all of these cases, the commonality is that the other spouse was left in the dark, unaware of the spending that was taking place.
If you suspect that your partner is not being forthcoming and honest about your personal finances, it is time to get a professional involved. You will need to start gathering documents, if possible, including bank statements, credit card statements and investment account statements. If your spouse is unwilling to provide those to you, that should be an immediate red flag. Coordinating with legal counsel will also help if your spouse is not willing to provide you with those documents. Attorneys can contact the financial institutions and subpoena the information directly from them, so you know you are getting accurate and complete statements.
The key is not to wait. If you have suspicions that something is not right, act on it now. If financial infidelity is occurring, it is better to catch it sooner rather than later.