Infidelity is a sizzling topic, and Financial Infidelity is new on the scenes. According to the research Financial Infidelity in Couple Relationships 2018 by Jeanfreau, Noguchi, Mong and Stadthagen, 27% of people admit to keeping a secret from their partner but 53% do keep a secret from their partner. Are they lying? OR, is what they’re doing just not considered infidelity in their minds?
How Does it Start
Well, couples are more likely to marry someone with different attitudes toward money – opposites attract after all. Let’s say you date someone who wines and dines you, which makes you feel special because you wouldn’t treat yourself this way – you save instead. You love it! Then, you find out they’re doing it on credit cards, or draining their 401(k) to do it. Suddenly there’s a chill in the room. If you marry and this isn’t addressed, your partner will continue these behaviors and sometimes hide them from you.
It may also occur when the self-worth or power dynamic in a couple is out of balance. For example, if one partner lacks financial knowledge and doesn’t understand how much is flowing in and out of the household – then they don’t have the right vocabulary and context to discuss how their behaviors might actually be appropriate. Or if there is a lack of financial transparency so that one partner has more control over the money, then they have more decision-making ability. This leaves the other spouse scrambling to justify sometimes even small expenses within a budget formed by someone else. They might lie about the amount spent, or hide an item.
What is Financial Infidelity?
Interestingly, I’ve found 2 different definitions. One is to intentionally or unintentionally hide money or a money behavior from your partner. The other defined by Canale, Archuleta, Klontz 2015 is the “purposeful financial deceit between two or more individuals wherein, there is a stated or unstated belief in mutual honest communication around financial matters”. This second definition is a bit more lenient.
Are You Committing Financial Infidelity?
You are committing financial infidelity if you answer yes to one or more of these questions. Once you’ve finished the questionnaire, you can compare yourself to how others have answered below.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.