Financial infidelity: What is it and how does it affect a marriage?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2016 | Divorce

The most obvious example of fidelity in a marriage is undeniably sexual fidelity. By any definition, an extramarital affair involves unfaithfulness.

But what about financial infidelity? In this post, we will explore what that is and how it can impact a marriage.

Spending without a partner’s knowledge

There is no single definition of financial infidelity. One common form, however, is having a credit card or a bank card that is kept secret from a partner.

How common is this practice? Survey data suggests as many as 13 million people have committed this form of infidelity in a relationship with a spouse or other intimate partner.

Does it matter how much money is spent without a partner’s knowledge? That depends a lot on the couple. In some relationships, spending $100 without a partner’s knowledge would be okay. But it would not be in other relationships.

Financial truth and transparency

There are plenty of commentators who contend that being completely transparent with a partner or potential partner about money is crucial.

Indeed, there is even a provocatively titled book and line of advice that encourages couples to “get financially naked.” In this view, it makes sense to be clear about your financial status and prospects right from the start of a relationship.

In other words, on the dating scene, solvency is the new sexy.

Money within marriage

Some financial commentators believe it is important for a married couple to share all of their accounts. The prominent debt-reduction guru Dave Ramsey, for example, believes that keeping finances separate can lead to separation in the marriage in other ways.

Others believe that there is room for separate accounts in a marriage, or for not telling your spouse about every little purchase you make. As long as a couple communicates clearly with each other, compatibility on the money front is possible.

But when concerns about financial infidelity arise, it’s a different story. Such concerns can sow seeds of doubt that contribute to undermining the marriage.

When marriage ends in divorce

And so, whether you were financially faithful or not, your marriage may end in divorce. If that has happened in your marriage, make sure you get the legal counsel you need to protect your financial interests as you move forward.