Financial Infidelity is the act of lying and being unfaithful about your finances to your spouse. It can take many forms. Hiding or lying about investments, incomes, debts, etc., are some of the most common ways it manifests itself.
The information you hide, in most cases, is something your partner ought to know as it has the potential to affect your joint finances and household income.
Some of the biggest causes of financial infidelity are shame, addiction, and overlooking your partner's financial history. They can occur right under your nose, and you might miss them. They're subtle. Most people will notice them when they start seeing the effects. And when this happens, you'll need to find a way to fix everything. And fix them quickly.
So how do you approach financial infidelity and create a plan to recover from it before your relationship becomes unsalvageable?
This article will examine six steps you and your partner can take to ensure you recover from financial infidelity and prevent it from affecting your relationship further.
You can't move from a problem without acknowledging it exists. The first step to take after committing financial infidelity is to come clean to your partner and confess your mistake. From there, you can start finding ways to fix the issue and ravage the situation.
It is up to your partner to forgive you. Once you have confessed, you may want to give them a little room to soak it in. Give them time to evaluate and hope for a favourable response. They will likely appreciate your honesty and commitment to putting it behind you.
Acknowledging your mistakes will also involve promising not to repeat them.
Once you and your partner are ready to move forward, you should have a sit-down. Identify the cause of the financial infidelity and create a plan to prevent it from happening again. Different causes will require different approaches to dealing with them.
For example, is there a financial disparity in your finances that forced you to commit financial infidelity? Was this forcing you to hide money or take loans to put yourself in the same earning bracket as your partner?
If that's the case, you and your partner should find a way to close the gap and ensure there is no bad blood between you two. You can decide to combine your finances entirely or contribute to the budget/goals depending on what you earn. This will take the pressure off the lesser earner, and the bigger earner will feel satisfied.
Wherever the cause is, you and your partner should be able to find common ground on how to deal with it. Without fixing the cause, mistakes might happen again.
Now that you are past the forgiveness phase, you should put yourselves in a position that will prevent a recurrence. The best way to do this is to align all your financial goals and prioritise your family goals over individual ones. This includes homeownership, retirement, education, family vacations, etc.
When you are working towards the same goals, you create no room to hide or waste money.
If you have accumulated debts, you and your partner should find a way to service them without affecting your overall finances. This can be in the form of consolidating your loans, renegotiating with lenders, and developing new sources of income.
You should also revisit the basics like your budgets. Create a new budget reflecting your current financial position after the infidelity, and ensure it works for both of you.
Depending on the severity of the infidelity, you might want to consider separating your finances for a while. This will help you start to build up trust. You can also use this opportunity to show your partner you are past that face and give them time to see the new changes.
Sometimes, you can only have accountability by setting rules that you can both adhere to. Creating rules that favour and keep both of you equal can create an environment that encourages transparency and communication and prevents money disputes.
After an episode of financial infidelity, here are some rules you can adopt as a couple:
To prevent future conflicts and ensure everyone is happy, you can dedicate a portion of your collective income to personal use. You and your partner will receive a certain monthly amount you can use as you please. This will ensure you have some freedom.
Sometimes mending relationships after financial infidelity can be challenging. You and your partner can decide to involve third parties to help you move past it. A mediator can help ease the tension, prevent you from making hurried decisions, and offer unbiased advice that considers both your perspective.
Some people you can involve are family and close friends who understand you well. These people can remind you why you need to see beyond your conflicts and what really matters, that is, your relationship. They will remind you why you are together in the first place.
You can also consider going to couple therapy and getting professional help on how to solve your issues. Therapy can offer you a chance, to be honest with your partner and get directions on how to fix problems and a roadmap to recovery. Treatment is essential, especially if the cause of financial infidelity is a deep-rooted issue in your relationship that spilled over to your finances.
Lastly, you can consider getting financial help from an expert. Since the source of your conflict is money, a financial advisor can help you find the best way to recover. They can explain how you can improve your money relationship, recommend tools you can use to ensure transparency, and help you align your financial goals. They can also help you to understand the kind of damage the infidelity has caused and how to fix it.
Transparency is vital for every relationship and even more critical when it comes to the subject of money. To prevent financial infidelity from occurring again, you and your partner need to be honest and transparent with each other. It's the only way trust can be rebuilt, and cooperation improved.
The best way to show transparency is to start to communicate often about your finances. Schedule money talks as often as possible and update each other on every little thing. Keeping each other in the loop will take doubts off the table.
You should let your partner know when mistakes happen as soon as possible. This way, it can be reversed, and action will be taken before it gets out of hand. Hiding financial errors can be disastrous, especially when your partner finds out on their own. An honest mistake might be constituted as intentional, and a floodgate opened.
Financial Infidelity can have disastrous effects on your relationship if you cannot find common ground with your partner to settle your differences, forgive each other, heal, and move forward.
Trust will be lost, confrontations and disputes will be common, you will experience losses, your financial goals can be derailed, and at the extreme, you might separate or divorce. To prevent yourself from having to face all this, you must practice financial transparency. Constant communication is key to resolving ant size issues before they grow.