Despite the fact that money problems are the number one subjects couples argue about and a leading cause of divorce, there are few studies that address the issue of financial secrecy or financial infidelity. The reason why many people keep secrets about money is fear of being abandoned, shame, and fear of being vulnerable due to past betrayal by a parent or partner.
Learning how to have productive, low-conflict discussions about money is essential to handling finances in a healthy way. Finances are a touchy subject for all couples and a leading cause of divorce. However, when you get married, your spouse should be made aware of any debts that you have in your name. And after you wed, having regular discussions about expenses, income, and debts is essential to having a happy, long-term marriage.
Anything less than full disclosure about money matters will breed an atmosphere of mistrust in your relationship. Being in debt can result in a great deal of stress and being open about it with your partner will enable you to come up with a plan to improve your situation.
Laura, 53, had been remarried to Kevin, 55, for seven years when he found out that she had a secret bank account that had thousands of dollars in it. Meanwhile, they had been struggling to pay their mortgage and to find funds for their vacation with their two children.
Laura put it like this, “I know hiding my secret account was wrong but I feel insecure about money since my first husband left after ten years of marriage and cleaned out my bank accounts. I have trust issues and I need to work on them and be fair to Kevin. We are going to couples counseling to work through these money issues and I want my marriage to work.”
Being in debt can result in a great deal of stress and being open about it with your partner will enable you to come up with a plan to improve your situation. Here are some steps you can make to address debt head-on as a unified couple:
- Having weekly one to two hour discussions about money.
- Taking the time to create a budget together.
- Seeing a debt counselor or financial advisor.
- Looking into debt relief or consolidation companies.
If couples have not established a bedrock of trust and vulnerability together, they might be more prone to committing financial infidelity. If you consistently feel uneasy because you can’t trust your partner, even minor mistakes or errors in judgment can make you feel vulnerable, in spite of your partner offering a good explanation for their actions. In other words, by keeping secrets or lying to your partner you put your relationship in jeopardy because he or she may have lost a sense of trust and security that couples need to thrive and grow resilient together.
Follow Terry here: Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
Terry’s forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.