Guest Article by Alayna Pehrson – Content Management Specialist at BestCompany.com
Try to imagine this scenario. Your life is great. You have a house, your dream job, and you live with the love of your life. You think you’re living the dream, but then your spouse begins to act strangely. After a while, you begin to be suspicious and start to doubt what you thought you knew.
Why else would they act so strangely all of sudden?
With seeds of doubt planted in your mind, you begin to notice they won’t let you near their phone, wallet, the mail, or even their home office. Eventually, you confront them about it and they say everything is fine. They even go out later that night to pick up a gift for you. A week later, you get a notification from your bank that the amount in your joint account is dangerously low. You find out that the “love of your life” had recently made a few terrible investments without telling you. That’s when you realize your entire relationship is in danger because of your spouse’s financial infidelity.
So, what exactly is financial infidelity?
Financial infidelity is when your spouse or significant other betrays you financially. It can involve anything from them making secret purchases behind your back to them not telling you the truth about their personal financial habits, standing, and history. In some eyes, financial infidelity is equal to or even worse than actual cheating.
How do you know if your spouse or partner is guilty of financial infidelity? Here are a few major warning signs you should look out for:
Your partner shows defensive behavior when discussing money or finances.
If your partner starts to get defensive when you bring up conversations about money or finances, then that could be a sign that your partner is committing or has committed financial infidelity. Although starting a financial conversation with your partner may feel difficult, you need to see how your partner reacts to the conversation. Their reaction could tell you whether they have been financially honest or not.
Your partner begins to spend a generous amount of money on you.
If you partner regularly spends money on you or buys you gifts, then you probably shouldn’t depend on this warning sign to tell you if they have been financially faithful. However, if your partner doesn’t regularly spend money on you and does so all of a sudden, you probably should consider this to be a warning sign of potential financial infidelity.
Your partner has started to limit or even break off communication with you.
If communication has suddenly become scarce or difficult with your partner, that could mean they are guilty of financial infidelity. When people feel guilty, they usually avoid interacting with those they feel they have wronged.
Your partner won’t let you near the mail, their phone, or wallet.
If your partner has started checking the mail before you can get to it or has started keeping you away from their phone and wallet, they could be trying to hide any evidence of their financial infidelity. For example, if your partner opened up a new bank or credit card account behind your back, they would probably want to intercept the mail in case there was a letter sent about the account.
Your partner gets nervous about bills and other financial responsibilities.
Obviously, bills and various financial responsibilities can stress out those who aren’t committing financial infidelity, but if your partner becomes suddenly nervous about bills and finances, then you might want to consider that they may be guilty of financial infidelity. For example, if you are looking to buy a new house with your partner and they have ruined their credit score without you knowing, they might be suddenly nervous when you bring up the topic of home buying.
Clearly, all of the warning signs listed above won’t work 100 percent of the time, but they can at least give you a direction of what to look out for.
So, what should you do if you do find out your partner is guilty of financial infidelity? Here are three things you can do:
Seek professional help.
If working things out together doesn’t work out for you, then you could seek professional help. Sign up for couples therapy or get a financial advisor/professional involved. Professionals can help you and your partner sort things out and can lessen the weight on your shoulders. Sometimes it’s nice to know that you aren’t on your own to handle a difficult situation.
Work it out together.
Before you make any rash decisions regarding your relationship, talk to your partner about the situation. Focus on being patient and hearing what they have to say. After you discuss the situation with your partner, create an action plan to get you both financially back on track. You could take finance classes together or you could help them reevaluate their financial habits. It will take time and patience to get finances back in order and considerably more time for them to regain your trust, but it may be possible to work things out together.
As difficult as it may seem, there definitely are ways to move past financial infidelity. For example, if your partner ruins your credit or their credit, credit repair services could help you determine how to move forward repairing your credit together or they can help you leverage consumer laws to clean up the financial mess that your partner left you. Regardless of what happens, you should keep in mind that financial infidelity isn’t that uncommon and that there are places and people who can help you handle the situation and move on.