Anyone who has ever been cheated on understands. There’s nothing like the combination of shock, shame, and rage that follows. But bear in mind that infidelity comes in many forms. The sexual variety gets all the headlines and movie plots, but, in a recent survey, some 53 percent of Americans owned up to being financially unfaithful. Side note: Only half of them had admitted it to their partner.
It could be hiding bills or keeping a secret bank account. There are countless examples (see red flag section below). The common thread is lying. Trust is broken, but with the right kind of help, your marriage can be repaired.
You may be entangled in a web of financial deception if your partner:
- Demands to be in control of all financial matters, e.g., paying bills, managing accounts, etc.
- Gets defensive when asked even the tiniest question pertaining to money.
- Doesn’t let you know where the financial documents are and won’t share passwords to money-related info online.
- Is suddenly spending money you didn’t know they had.
- Already engages in addictive behaviors—whether it be gambling, video gaming, substance abuse, or any other activity that could feed into financial woe.
When the truth comes out, it feels like a jolting betrayal. But again, you can recover, heal, and move forward stronger.
How to Repair Your Marriage After a Partner has Been Financially Unfaithful
This is the root of the problem and the path out of trouble. Undoubtedly, your spouse did not want this to happen. Money issues escalated, they covered up, and then the lie became too big (in their eyes) to discuss. The most important shift to make is related to communication. Healthy, direct communication can facilitate the rebuilding of trust. From there, it can help prevent anything like this from happening again.
For example, both partners may gain some much-needed solace and relief if the cheating partner were to answer a question like: “Why did you feel you needed to keep this a secret from me?”
Before you even consider re-starting from scratch in terms of your finances, there must be a new understanding. The partner who lied about money must demonstrate that they understand the ramifications of their actions. They must apologize, show remorse, and take immediate steps to show that they have learned from their mistakes.
The betrayed spouse must find it in their heart to forgive. Remember, forgiveness is not the same as absolution. You are not implying that deception is okay. Instead, you are interacting with empathy. A terrible choice was made, but you both can learn how to move forward as a strong couple.
Agree on a New Plan
Leave nothing to chance. Your new money model must be transparent and fully collaborative. Some tasks to consider:
- Budgeting together
- Creating a detailed plan to get out of debt
- Installing checks and balances, e.g., you must call the other partner before making a large purchase
- Talk about money on at least a weekly basis
Consult a financial expert if you think you need input on how best to make this happen. Consult with a couples therapist if the obstacles seem to be emotional (see below).
Identify Your Money Styles
Everyone has a unique relationship with money. Talk about this. Find out what feels “normal” for each of you. Factor this in when communicating to keep things respectful and productive.
Commit to Couples Counseling
Rebuilding trust while creating new patterns can be challenging. This process is made smoother when done in the presence of a skilled, unbiased guide. Let’s connect. I’d love to help you recover and thrive