Many couples complain that one or both partners have difficulty practicing full disclosure about finances and that this had lead to mistrust and poor communication. For instance, Carin, 40, reported that she had incurred $40,000 in debt prior to marrying Thomas, 42, five years ago and he recently discovered this when he saw her credit card statements. Understandably, he felt that he had lied to him and that he could no longer trust her to be honest about finances.
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.
Despite the fact that financial issues and 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.
Unfortunately, many couples create barriers to good communication by keeping secrets about money. It can take a couple several years for a couple to regain trust after withholding information, hiding debt, or keeping a secret account.
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.
The first two steps above will help you to look at your assets and expenses, and to decide on strategies. For instance, Carin and Thomas decided that one way to get out of debt was for both of them to take on a second part-time job until their debt was payed off.
If restructuring your budget and coming up with solutions doesn’t seem to relieve your stress and help you to pay off your debt, seeing a debt counselor may be a good idea. Having a financial plan in place will help you to have less stress and you’ll probably argue less and feel more content.
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.
Find Terry on 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. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry