Is Your Spouse a Financial Cheater? Five Signs

Andre Maurois once said, “A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.”

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It’s true; a strong marriage takes work and trust, two things that are also essential when combining finances. Despite the idealism, however, the average Mr. and Mrs. don’t live by the same rules. A Harris Interactive poll revealed that one-third of married people have committed financial infidelity. So, how can you tell if your beloved is lying about money? You may feel cheated if they (are):

1. Easily defensive. The subject of money is a touchy one in your household. The question, “How much did you spend on groceries?” can erupt into World War III. While your spouse may be feeling stressed about money, defensiveness is often a sign of untold troubles. Approach the topic carefully and ask why it’s an emotional trigger. Communication is the first step.

2. Quick to lie. Big or small, a lie about money is a bad sign. Consider the following example:

Justin and Claire have been married for two years. While away on a weekend trip with friends, Justin spends more than $400 on dinner, drinks and clubbing. When Claire asks about his trip the following Monday, he replies, “Don’t worry about it. I only spent $200 or so.”

While Justin’s lie wasn’t malicious, small untruths can add up quickly, especially when it concerns personal finance and budgeting. If you can’t trust your spouse to deliver the truth, review joint bank statements to determine the depths of their deceit. What you learn will shed light on the health of your relationship.

3. Open accounts without your knowledge. Are charges missing from your credit statement? If so, you might be dealing with a case of infidelity. Consider Morgan’s plight:

Morgan and Grace have been married for 9 years. Although they are generally happy, Morgan worries about Grace’s tendency to overspend. He notices new items in the house and a closet full of recently purchased clothes, but he can’t find the expenses listed on their credit card statement. While rifling through papers in the office, he discovers a credit card statement addressed to his wife only. He is shocked when he learns that she has opened a new credit card and charged over $7,000 in personal debt.

Numbers don’t lie, and it’s time to seek the truth if yours aren’t adding up. Spouses are jointly responsible for all debts incurred during the marriage. Don’t wait to uncover the facts in this scenario.

4. “Borrow” money from you. Have you ever “lost” $20 from your wallet? Did you immediately realize your spouse was the culprit? Vanishing funds are a symptom of a larger problem. Whether the intent is to lie, conceal, or simply take, financial instability begins with missing cash.

5. Divert from the marriage plan. Infidelity covers many sins, and lying is the common denominator. We’ve talked about the importance of discussing finances before marriage. If you’ve had a similar talk, remind your spouse about the importance of sticking to the plan. Highlight your reasons for budgeting, saving and focusing on credit repair.

The bottom line: Money troubles can ruin a marriage without the proper attention. Confront your spouse about their financial infidelity and begin to rebuild your relationship now. Waiting will only lead to bigger problems.