Your Partner Cheated on You With the Credit Cards and Checkbook… Now What?
As surveys continue to collect information about financial infidelity in relationships, it has been suggested there may be a lot more people currently being cheated on then we realize. According to the numbers, approximately 30 percent of all couples sharing money have lied to their partner about finances, which includes secret purchases and hidden credit cards/bank accounts. In addition, as many as 25 percent of couples have withheld financial information from their partner, which may include bank/credit card statements, yearly earnings, and personal debt.
These indiscretions may seem harmless, but what these liars don’t realize is that over 70 percent of cases of financial infidelity will be found out eventually, and 42 percent of these relationships will experience a steep drop in trust because of it. One fourth of those in committed relationships claim it is more important for their partner to be honest about their finances than about an extramarital affair. This would explain why statistics also suggest 16 percent of relationships experiencing financial infidelity end in divorce, and 11 percent will go through a trial separation until their partner seeks help.
These are some pretty bleak statistics, but let’s roll up our sleeves and see what you can do to put the odds back into your favor?
1. Get the Facts
The first step of financial infidelity is to collect all the facts. You need to see just how much cheating has been going on. You can order a free credit report, which will give you a lowdown of the situation. While most infidelity falls under the occasional pair of shoes or garage tool, there have been cases of partners purchasing vehicles, homes for mistresses, and stealing money out of joint accounts.
2. Understand That a Bigger Problem May Exist
Couples experiencing financial infidelity are often just scratching the surface of the root of the problem. Deceitful spending has many unpleasant origins, which may include infidelity, insecurity, addiction, and revenge. As you’d expect, hidden spending can be a red flag for an affair. It takes money to keep a mistress happy, so if their cover has been blown, pay attention to what the money was being used for (hotels, jewelry stores, airfare, etc.). Insecure partners may also hide money as a means to feel more secure in their relationships, putting it away for a rainy day, so to speak. Be aware that this action can be the pre-stages to a divorce.
Checkbook cheating can be an attempt to fill a void in your partner’s life. Multiple thrill purchases can give some cheaters a momentary high, also known as medicated spending. Addictive personalities may find secretive spending a means to continue a bad habit, such as alcohol, gambling, drugs, or prostitution. Financial infidelity can also be used to get revenge for a wrong your partner feels was done to them. In most cases, however, cheating with the checkbook or credit cards is mostly about buying something that they knew you’d most likely not approve of, so they purchased it without you knowing. This leads to the next course of action, setting aside a slush fund.
3. Set Aside a Slush Fund
If your investigations have not uncovered any serious problems, one way to curb hidden spending is to allow each other a certain allowance to spend on whatever you want each month. It could be as minimal as $20, or as high as $300. The important thing is that the two of you agree to the amount, and promise to stick to it. This slush fund will give both partners enough freedom to enjoy some of their favorite indulgences, while also keeping a cap on the amount of trouble they can get into. If there is an item that will cost more than the monthly allowance, they can either save up for it, or sit down and talk it over to decide if it fits in the budget.
4. Improve Communication
Financial infidelity is as much a breakdown in communication, as a red flag for other problems. Communicating and understanding is a key component to avoiding fiscal misunderstandings. As a couple, you should be able to talk about future purchases and make compromises where necessary. Make time once a month to discuss your budget. Keep these discussions light and friendly, without lecture or blame. Your goal should be to fortify your partnership, while also allowing for (reasonable) individual indulgence.