Don’t let these financial infidelity missteps obliterate trust in your relationship.

3 minute read

People who find their spouse or partner financially irresponsible are 10 times more likely to end the relationship or marriage, according to the 2019 PolicyGenius Couples and Money survey. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that many people with excessive debt or other financial woes try to hide money troubles from a spouse, significant other or prospective marriage partner.

Entering or continuing a relationship under false financial pretenses is a big mistake. If you’re not honest with someone about how much debt you have or your poor credit history before you marry, coming clean after the marriage will get you off to a rocky start. Even worse, continuing to hide your financial picture sets the scene for deception, a notorious marriage killer.

Even if you’d never cheat on your partner with another person, keeping money secrets from someone you love is its own form of cheating, known as “financial infidelity.” And just like you’d have to rebuild trust after confessing to an affair with a coworker, the road to reconciliation after wrecking your relationship with lies about money is long and treacherous.

Want to make sure financial infidelity isn’t sleeping in the same bed with you and your beloved? Here are five marriage and relationship killers and how to come clean, or avoid them altogether.

1. Hidden existing debt

If you’re carrying a large amount of credit card debt that your partner or prospective spouse doesn’t know about, come clean now. If you’re getting married, your potential spouse needs to know about it for a couple of reasons.

Depending on state laws, your spouse may not be responsible for the individual debt you bring to the marriage. However, a high amount of debt can get in the way of a lot of household and financial milestone goals. For example, your debt may make it hard to qualify for a mortgage loan or 0% APR credit deals on furniture and other large purchases.

Find out: Are You and Your Spouse Talking About Money Enough?

2. Poor credit

If you can’t be honest with someone about your credit situation, you’re starting off with a secret that’s going to come back at some point and bite you at the altar. If you’ve got lousy credit, speak up now rather than forever holding your peace.

Rather than beating yourself up and slinking around in shame over your poor credit history, come up with a plan to repair your credit. Let your partner know that your credit score is disappointing but you’re committed to raising it to a creditworthy rating.

Hopefully, your partner will respect your honesty and be supportive of your credit repair efforts. If not, maybe it’s best to let them go, fix your credit and look for love when you’re in a better financial situation.

Find out: 6 Ways Pre-Marriage Financial Counseling May Head Off Divorce

3. Money-gobbling addictions

Shopping, gambling, drug and alcohol addictions can rack up a lot of credit card debt. And even if you pay off those balances, chances are you’ll end up in the same position later unless you get help for your addiction and figure out why you engage in self-destructive behaviors.

These addictions don’t cause only money problems in a marriage, either. They all involve secrecy, shame and deception, all of which damage trust and intimacy between two people.

Find out: 5 Warning Signs of a Shopping Addiction

4. Covert accounts

According to the PolicyGenius Couples and Money survey, plenty of people hide financial accounts from their partners:

  • 13% have a secret checking account
  • 12% have a secret savings account
  • 12% have a secret credit card
  • 9% have a secret retirement account

If you have bank and other accounts that you hide from your partner or spouse, maybe it’s time to look at the problems in the relationship that prompted you to open separate, hidden accounts. Do you not feel secure in the relationship? Are you afraid your partner will leave you or misuse the funds?

If so, it’s time for a heart-to-heart talk with the one you love. Visiting a couple’s therapy together might make disclosure easier and keep heads cool when you break the news or get to the root of your relationship issues.

Find out: How to Hide Money from Your Spouse

5. Stonewalling

Do you clam up every time your partner or spouse wants to talk about money? If so, you’re creating tension and distrust. If you’re ashamed of your financial situation, hiding it isn’t going to make anything better, especially in your marriage or relationship.

Better to be upfront with money issues, debt that’s out of hand or spending addictions. That way, you and your partner can work together to get in a better position financially and form a solid basis for communication.

Find out: 6 Money Conflicts That Can Lead to a Divorce

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC