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Financial Infidelity: How Not To Cheat Financially
Family Finance

Financial Infidelity: How Not To Cheat Financially

It is a cosy evening. You have just had supper with your partner. You are lying on his lap as both of you watch TikTok on his phone. Then a notification pops up. You can tell the notification is from a loan app. 

But you didn't know that your partner was taking digital loans. So your heart sinks but you overlook it. Before you go to bed, you cannot hold it any longer, so you ask. But the initial reaction from your partner is defensive and hostile. Something you did not expect. So you lay the matter to rest but you choose to do your investigation. 

Over the next month, you dig deeper into your finances, your joint account, and overall expenses and discover your partner has been cheating. Not intimately but financially. He earns more than he discloses; he spends on things you don’t have information about; and he has loans you never knew about. You feel betrayed but now you are at a crossroads. Do you build back the trust or do you call it quits?

This article will discuss financial infidelity, its causes, signs, impact, and how to overcome it.

Read Also: Money Lessons from My College Friends Who Married Early

What Is Financial Infidelity?

Financial infidelity is the hiding of financial information or not disclosing your partner's financial activities. Making financial commitments without your partner's consent. This is not to be confused with financial irresponsibility. Financial irresponsibility is poor money management practices that can lead to overspending, accumulating debt, and failure to meet financial obligations.

Signs of Financial Infidelity

Partners committing financial infidelity try their best to hide their behaviour. Just as in any other case of infidelity, the signs are not very obvious. However, when you start paying attention, you start noticing cracks. These cracks are signs of financial infidelity and they include the following.

  • Your partner intentionally hides purchases.
  • Your partner has secret accounts
  • Your partner receives a windfall and doesn’t disclose
  • Your partner has undisclosed debt
  • You note changes in your partner's spending habits
  • Your partner has incurred unexplained expenses

Causes and Motivations Behind Financial Infidelity

Partners do not just commit financial infidelity. Financial infidelity is usually driven by another underlying cause. These can be from within them or external. 

Individual financial insecurities - Partners may be harbouring financial insecurities that may be fueling their infidelity. These insecurities may stem from their upbringing, where they did not talk about money; hence for them, talking about money seems like a taboo. They might also feel that disclosing their financial information is very sensitive. Insecurities can range from feeling inadequate at the moment to seemingly insignificant things in the past. Nonetheless, there is no assuming that the resulting behaviour - financial infidelity - needs to be addressed.

Fear of judgement or conflict - Another reason your partner may be financially unfaithful is the fear of judgement or conflict. In a relationship, you need to establish clear communication lines without judgement. As partners, you need to discuss your mistakes, insecurities, and commitments without judging each other or spiralling into a conflict.

Lack of communication about financial goals - It is vital for couples to discuss their financial goals as individuals and as a couple. Lack of communication on these goals will lead to divergent financial behaviour that might offend the partner. 

External pressures or influences - Sometimes partners in a relationship may feel the pressure of keeping up with external pressures and influences. They might dress in certain ways, eat in certain places, and take part in certain activities that could be beyond your budget, hence leading them to overspending and debt.

Read Also: How to Assess and Align Your Money Mindsets as a Couple

Impact of Financial Infidelity on Relationships

Financial infidelity has a tremendous impact on relationships. 

First, it can lead to the erosion of trust and intimacy. Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. With the erosion of trust comes intimacy too. Financial infidelity can make it difficult for your partner to believe what you tell them. It can make them spiral into a pit of questions, wondering what else they do not know about. This puts a significant strain on the relationship and might affect the relationship beyond finances.

It can also strain communication and partnership. Every relationship is built on communication. Infidelity means that some information has been withheld, leading to a breakdown of the communication channels. The lack of transparent communication threatens the partnership, as it is difficult to establish if you are moving in the same direction.

Unfortunately, financial infidelity can also lead to financial consequences and debt accumulation. These financial consequences can range from not being able to meet financial obligations to debt accumulation and even the loss of assets and properties. 

Furthermore, financial infidelity can lead to the potential for relationship breakdown or divorce. Sometimes the infidelity is so overwhelming that your partner is not invested in the future of the relationship. If the financial infidelity is very severe, it can lead to separation or even divorce.

Read Also: Yours, Mine, Ours? How Couples Can Manage Money

How to Overcome Financial Infidelity

Luckily, all is not lost. When you find yourself in a case of financial infidelity, if both partners are willing to rebuild the relationship, you can do a few things to salvage it;

Acknowledge the issue - The very first step to addressing any problem is acceptance that the issue exists. This takes vulnerability. It is the most difficult step but once acknowledgement happens, it is easier to steer the ship in the right direction.

Open communication - Once you have accepted that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, establish open and clear communication. This communication should be devoid of judgement and accusations. It should focus on rebuilding, not blaming. 

Understand the motivation - It is important to understand the motivation that led to the financial infidelity in the first place. Understanding the motivation will empower you to address the root cause. Hence, your resolution will not be superficial.

Rebuilding trust - After a case of financial infidelity, trust takes a huge hit. Notably, trust takes a lot of work to build back. Nonetheless, it is worth making a commitment to build back trust by setting up ways of ensuring accountability. Be open and vulnerable and craft a way forward that works for both of you.

Set boundaries and establish financial goals - Create boundaries that protect both of you from sliding back to previous patterns. Additionally, create financial goals together. The boundaries and the goals should work in tandem so that the boundaries do not feel inhibitory; rather, they feel like an effort towards something greater.

Regular check-ins - Conduct regular check-ins to discuss your progress. Talk about what has been difficult, and the failures you have experienced along the way and adjust your goals and boundaries accordingly.

Read Also: Would You Keep Your Monthly Savings In Your Wife/Husband’s Account?

Wrapping Up

Financial infidelity is a huge threat to relationships. Therefore, if it can be avoided, the better. However, if you find yourself dealing with it, you have to be very keen so as not to break the relationship. In order to save the relationship, you need to rebuild trust, establish clear communication, and enforce financial accountability in both personal and joint finances.

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Stephen Kimani aka KIMSpeaks is a thought leader, speaker, and writer. He is also the Founder of Living the DREAM. He is passionate about learning and teaching ideas that empower people to improve the quality of their lives. You can connect with Kimani on LinkedIn.

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