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The Hidden Killer: How to Save Your Marriage from Financial Infidelity

financial infographic

I love this Infographic from, it illustrates the remarkable stats related to financial infidelity in marriage. Amazingly, 58 percent of couples who are divorced or separated admit to lying to their spouse about money. The part that didn’t surprise me is 60 percent said they kept their spending secret to avoid problems at home.

Avoiding conflict is a tempting marriage improvement strategy. Conflict is no fun and often really painful. But avoiding conflict only last a short time and lying always makes conflict worse. Dishonesty in any area but especially about money, kills trust and intimacy. Every time.

The infographic also points out, when compared to a number of other issues, financial disagreements last longer and generate more negative communication techniques like defensiveness and yelling.

You may be surprised to know 60 percent of divorced or separated couples believe financial infidelity is as destructive as sexual infidelity.

I’m not sure which is more destructive. Certainly both financial and sexual infidelity have destroyed many marriages. In each form of infidelity, trust is demolished and lying fuels the destructive fire.

Financial infidelity could be secretly destroying your marriage. Rotting your marriage from the inside out. Protect your marriage and make some wonderful in your marriage by committing to financial transparency.

1. Work on finances together. ends the infographic by recommending “GET OUT OF DEBT AND STAY OUT OF DEBT” Good advice. Couples who operate separate accounts and responsibilities experience more difficulty reaching financial goals like getting out of debt. The easiest way to guard against financial infidelity is to work on finances together. Partner with your spouse, align your financial goals and share the tasks of managing your money.

Action Point: Discuss with your spouse how you feel your current money management arrangement is working and respectfully negotiate how you can better share the work of managing your money together.

2. Have honest conversations.

To prevent pain and divorce, I recommend “STOP LYING AND NEVER LIE AGAIN.” I understand it’s not easy, especially when you know tough financial conversations are necessary in your relationship. Stop avoiding difficult conversations by lying. It may be tempting but lying never helps relationships thrive. Your lie will always be found out and the longer you lie the more destruction it will cause in your marriage.

Action Point: Come clean and tell your spouse about spending or debt you’ve been hiding. Take responsibility and don’t blame your spouse for your inappropriate behavior. Also apologize for your dishonesty or for withholding information from them.

3. Focus on communicating love.

It’s easy when talking about money to get hyper-focused on the details of the numbers and forget you’re in relationship. The more you focus on communicating love to your spouse the better you will negotiate finances. Personal finances are intimately personal. You must address your emotions related to money in a way that strengthens rather than tears down your connection in marriage.

Action Point: Tell your spouse why you care about them and your desire for intimate connection in every area of life, even finances.

4. Get help and use professional resources.

If you’re not sure how to start a conversation with your spouse about money or you know any conversation will lead to a dangerous fight, get help. Securing counsel is wisdom in action. Find a relationship counselor to help keep the conversation safe and on track. Use resources like Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey to give you and your spouse a shared understanding of money management.

Action Point: Identify together what resources would benefit your situation. You may need credit counseling, accounting or tax advice. Then commit to following through with professional recommendations.


The Real Predictor of a Successful Relationship is Not Your Credit Score
Photo Credit: Creative Commons _Drinkel_

Last week The Today Show shared the story Will Your Relationship Last? Your Credit Score May Have the Answer

Basically, it discusses Federal Reserve Board research which says your credit score and the credit score of your significant other can predict the success or failure of your relationship. Couples who have a drastically different credit score than each other are at a higher risk of separation.

You may already know your credit score is designed to predict how likely you are to repay a loan. Additional research has suggested your credit score can predict other behaviors and life events. For example, apparently your credit score can predict your driving ability and if you’ll have a heart attack. Now the latest research indicates your credit score can predict how successful you’ll be in your love life. Maybe next we’ll find out the credit score can predict your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Sorry to break up this “credit score is a crystal ball” idea but the greatest predictor of relationship success is not your credit score.

Besides, is it really news that finances are a major part of married life? Money fights are the number one reason for divorce in North America. People who cannot pay their debt (lower credit score) have more stress in their relationships. “What an earth shattering nugget of helpful relationship advice,” says the marriage counselor sarcastically.

The greatest predictor of relationship success is mutual commitment.

Both partners must commit to the relationship for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, good credit or bad. Sure, your past history deeply impacts your intimate relationship, but commitment always trumps history.

You and your spouse control the success of your relationship. Commit to love and to cherish one another no matter what circumstances come your way and you’ll succeed beyond your most sentimental dreams. Never let the detached and temporary measure your committed intimacy.

On a side note, this quote from the Today Show article drives me crazy!

Financial adviser Suze Orman believes this is so important that she’s known for telling people “FICO first, then sex.” Translation: Find out your date’s FICO score — a measure of how likely someone is to pay their bills on time or repay a loan — before getting more serious about a relationship.

FICO first, then sex? I otherwise appreciate the enthusiasm of Suze Orman but this snippet of advice is terribly wreckless. Get to know people without an impersonal number and without sex. Shortcuts to intimacy never lead to lasting beauty.

The holidays are right around the corner. If you’re a normal couple you’ll go through the motions, conceal your thoughts about money, avoid difficult conversations, and let it rip with an epic fight with your spouse when the January credit card bill arrives. Replace your tired and unhealthy holiday routine with true connection. Get my Holiday Survival Guide for Your Marriage FREE or my ebook, The Best Holidays Ever: How to Move From Conflict to Connection this Holiday Season for only $5 on Amazon.

6 Terrible Dating Techniques of Taco Bell Guy and What To Do Instead

guy in white shirt

The other day our family went out to eat at Taco Bell.* We set up camp near a young couple who appeared to be on a date. (Setting up camp is what it’s like to take two young boys out to eat anywhere.) Between directing our kids to eat their food, getting more napkins, and re-explaining the various types of cheese, we casually observed the date at the next table.

We learned a lot from watching the young couple set sail upon the waters of relationship building. Married folk like us may think we are way more advanced in relationships than this young inexperienced couple, but the lessons are for us too.

  1. Be the star of the show. This guy in Taco Bell talked non stop. He didn’t even pause while chewing his food. If your date wanted a show, they would have simply gone to a movie. For a real relationship to grow you must interact. When you spend time with your spouse, let them talk. Shut up enough to have a real conversation. Show your interest in your date by really listening to what they have to say.
  2. Talking and eating go well together. Occasionally we have to remind our three year old to use his manners, your spouse shouldn’t have to remind you. Simple manners like eating with your mouth closed, are important for all relationships. Manners display a level of maturity and respect.
  3. As long as you are funny it’s fine to insult your date. The guy in Taco Bell was not complimentary of his friend. I don’t get that. She was spending her time eating with him, at least he could be nice, it’s not too much for her to expect. The same goes for your spouse, they agreed to marry you, at least use nice words, it’s a reasonable expectation. Humor is awesome but using humor to excuse criticism is a connection killer.
  4. Guard your stuff. The guy in Taco Bell was well past kindergarten; he should have known the concept of sharing. But when she reached for a nibble of his food he told her he was not sharing. Umm, it’s just one or two mexi-fries dude, you will survive without them. Married people can become overly possessive of their stuff too. If your spouse reaches for your phone or drives your car to work, don’t get upset. Healthy couples know how to share, willingly.
  5. Make your point clear by hitting. The guy at Taco Bell swatted her hand away when she jokingly reached for his food. This dating technique is a major problem. Never hit your date. Touching is an important way to communicate closeness, care, and connection in relationships. Hurtful touches, no matter the intention, damage relationship and destroy trust needed for building good relationships.
  6. Be stingy. From what I could tell, the guy in Taco Bell didn’t pay for her food. I know it may be old fashioned for the guy to always buy on a date, but it was Taco Bell, it wouldn’t have broke the bank. Married folk, avoid getting into a lifetime of deciding if it is his or her bill to pay. Combine your finances and live on a budget. Above all else, always be on the lookout for how you can be more generous toward your spouse.

What have you learned by observing other couples?

*This post was developed after observing real interactions while in a Taco Bell. In no way do I intend to disparage Taco Bell or anyone for eating at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is awesome. In this post I refer to the young man on his date as “Taco Bell Guy” because he was a guy in Taco Bell; he was not an employee of Taco Bell. While I observed individuals at Taco Bell I did not talk to them, I do not know them, what they were discussing, or the nature of their relationship. If you believe, through my descriptions of this couple, it was you, then I hope you learned something. You never know when you may be on a date next to a marriage counselor.

Photo credit:Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Minor Loss Matters in Marriage

minor loss in mariage


Our boys, ages five and three, love riding with the windows down in the back seats. A couple weeks ago on the way home from church we saw a toy launch out of the back seat and onto a busy street. With our kids it’s certainly within the realm of possibilities that he threw the toy just because it would be cool to watch. In this case, it was purely accidental, his expression clearly showed he was horrified at the loss of his toy. His eyes filled with tears and his voice expressed pure panic.

My wife quickly decided to turn this into a lesson about unintended consequences of carelessness. She calmly prepared our son for the possibility it could be lost forever or destroyed. We turned around on a side road and miraculously recovered the toy from the road unbroken.

If the toy was unrecoverable or destroyed that day, he would have been fine. It was a rather insignificant toy, he hasn’t even played with it since. If we had ignored his loss and continued home it would have greatly influenced his behavior in the hours following. When children feel loss it comes out in a variety of behaviors like increased aggressiveness, moodiness, shouting, and refusal to follow directions.

Adults are not much different. We face minor losses too. However, we ignore many of our minor losses. We know it doesn’t matter and we pretend it doesn’t bother us.
Adults, like kids, can’t help but react to the aggravations of life. We get grumpy, moody, and overly aggressive when loss happens to us.

Ever need to write something and can’t find a working pen? After scribbling in circles with a couple of dead pens, I’m disproportionately upset.

Minor losses happen all the time in life.
When you lose out on fun activities because finances are tight, it’s a loss.
When you lose an evening to a fight, it’s a loss.
When you miss your son’s ballgame, it’s a loss.
When something turns out differently than expected, it’s a loss.
It doesn’t have to surpass the epic loss in the biblical story of Job for it to mess with your day.

Minor losses are not life altering but they can wreck your connection if you don’t pay attention.

For example, when the printer jams and you spend two frustrating hours getting it fixed, it’s a loss. If you react to the loss by saying “uugghh I hate our piece of junk printer!” your spouse could respond defensively “It’s not my fault, tightwad, what do you expect from a garage sale printer?” then conflict ensues.
Quickly acknowledging the loss and resulting emotion can reduce the escalation. The interaction with your spouse could sound more like “uugghh I hate our piece of junk printer, I’m disappointed I just lost two hours working on it.” then your spouse could respond “I’m sorry, that was a major project, thanks for fixing it.”

To prevent a minor loss from triggering a major conflict and disconnection, acknowledge your loss and resulting emotion. The important part for marriage is to respond to your spouse in a way that builds connection.

Can you identify a time when you experienced a minor loss that went unrecognized?
What do you need to say to your spouse to restore connection?

Hint: You may need to do one or all of these.
1. Clarify what the loss was. Take time for quick introspection, then share the situation with your spouse.
2. Clarify your reaction, or emotion, to the loss.
3. Apologize to your spouse if your reaction was hurtful.
4. Ask for a do-over and tell your spouse you love them. A hug or kiss would be nice too.