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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.