Financial Infidelity: A Marital Crisis

 Financial infidelity a crisis in  your marriage will be the topic discussed in this article. Have you or your partner been involved in financial infidelity? Would you know if you were? Do you shop and hide the receipts from your partner? Does your partner make investments without consulting you? Are you ordering from Amazon without talking about your purchases?

This all may seem innocuous, but everything mentioned here is a form of financial infidelity.  As a marriage counselor the counseling advice I give my clients are when you are in a couple where your finances are combined and you both are drawing funds for living expenses , you are under an obligation to disclose how you’re spending each other’s money (or your joint money, as it were). It doesn’t matter who earns the money, both have a say on how it is handled. In a marriage, both parties own everything together.

Financial infidelity can start small with undisclosed purchases or investments. It can become a huge secret carrying with it all the shame and stigma of addiction as in a gambling problem, playing the stock market or lottery. The violation of trust can create havoc to a marriage.

My counseling advice is how critical it is to any marriage to have conversations around money. These are crucial to successful couples, especially when your incomes are being pooled or comingled.  You have to talk about how much money you need for household bills, payments and investments, and then how the rest of your money will be handled. Often one partner is better at budgeting and saving and the other is better at spending. This is a recipe for disaster. You both must be totally on board with your couples’ financial plan and saving for the future, vacation or new car. If you have a family you may start a college fun for the children, or an estate plan that includes financial investments on their behalf. Both need to be on board with helping adult children as well.

When you begin keeping secrets and omitting the information about your purchases, or downplaying your spending, you’re venturing into financial infidelity territory. It’s wise to regularly examine the books together, look at your budget, what big payments such as taxes or insurance are coming up and to plan together how they will be paid. 

Financial Infidelity will destroy the trust in your marriage


You should never feel like you have to keep any information secret from your partner. If you think they will disapprove of a purchase, don’t make it. It’s totally acceptable to each have a bit of “mad money” that you are allowed to spend, but for all major purchases such as cars and rvs, you must discuss and agree as a couple that you are financially able to handle taking on a car payment, or be that check and balance for one another that says, “no”. This is not the right time to make a major purchase. It is also unacceptable to make purchases that you know your partner would not approve and keep it a secret.

Neither partner should have free rein with the household money, nor be completely in control of the finances of the couple. Both partners whether they pay the bills or not,should always know the financial position of the couple and there should never be any information withheld regarding spending or investing. 

Keeping it simple, with a logical budget and savings plan is the best way to avoid financial infidelity and to keep a good financial plan in place. Regular discussions about your finances is an integral part of a healthy relationship.





About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.