Infidelity can rear its ugly head in a relationship in a variety of different ways whether it be physically, emotionally, or even financially. Whether you are newly dating someone, engaged to be married, or celebrating your five-year wedding anniversary, it is likely the unavoidable topic of money has been the root of an uncomfortable conversation before. Even if it is a tricky topic to discuss at times, the lack of financial transparency and communication in a relationship can lead to this form of infidelity if you and your partner aren’t A. Aware and B. Proactive. Keep on reading to get a full grasp on what financial infidelity means, what to look out for, and how to deter it in your own relationship.
What is Financial Infidelity
In a relationship or marriage, it is important that you and your partner have the same definition of what financial infidelity means to you, because this is not a one size fits all term. Typically, financial infidelity is a label used to describe the secrecy, lies, and overall lack of honest/open communication surrounding all things money related. This could look differently depending on if you are dating vs engaged/married, have separate vs. joint bank accounts, or have similar vs. differing views on finances.
Betrayal of any sort can be devastating and hard to comprehend. Financial cheating is no different, and navigating a partner’s infidelity can be extremely difficult to cope with and recover from! In an ideal world, every person in a relationship would share the same views, goals, and desires when it comes to money- but of course this isn’t the reality for many couples.
You don’t necessarily have to tell each other every detail of every penny spent, or ask permission to buy mundane everyday things. Tom Balcom, a certified financial planner in Florida suggests that couples always discuss a larger ticketed purchase with their significant other, prior to swiping their credit card. If you personally have a guilty feeling when you are out shopping or checking your credit card statement, or you have questions surrounding what your significant other is doing, then it may be time to sit down and talk about these feelings or issues you are facing.
Stars- They’re Just Like Us!
Well, the average couple might not be able to relate to financial infidelity on this level, but even super celebs like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are not immune to the repercussions of making a big purchase without having a conversation about it first. Back in 2021, Ryan Reynolds bought an entire soccer team without discussing it with his wife first, who was rightfully very upset when she heard the news. Of course, this is an exuberant example, but the underlying message is the same- good communication goes a long way in a relationship, especially when it involves money.
Talking about your personal finances or money woes with your partner can be uncomfortable, especially if you have different long-term goals in mind, your incomes are vastly different, or you have debt that is weighing you down. But at what point does just avoiding these tricky topics turn into full blown financial infidelity? Here are some examples of what to look out for if you suspect something is going on behind your back.
- Shutting Down– Your partner flat out refuses to discuss anything relating to finances
- Locked Out– You no longer have access to joint accounts (or even your own account)
- Secrecy– Hiding (or discovering) new purchases, whether they are big or small, or opening private bank accounts
- Paranoia– Becoming obsessive over checking the mail, emails, or bank statements
- No Say– Your partner is going ahead and making big financial decisions/purchases without asking your opinion, or ignoring your input all together
- Doesn’t Add Up– Your partners spending habits and income don’t align in a way that makes sense
Moving Forward and Deterrence
One of the keys to a successful relationship is having good communication. As your relationship evolves, your views of spending, saving, and budgeting are also likely to evolve, therefore it is important to keep those conversations going so that you and your partner understand each other’s views and attitude towards money. Be sure to set clear boundaries, within reason that will set you both up for success.
Whether you have unfortunately experienced financial infidelity (or you are guilty of it yourself), or you just want to make sure it never happens in your relationship or marriage, here are some tips for how to successfully move forward with your partner or *hopefully* avoid it all together.
- Talk about all of your financial concerns and/or goals together so that you are on the same page. You can use this post as a guide for what to cover during this conversation.
- Make a plan to have frequent “check-ins” with one another, to make sure the systems/plans you have in place are working for both parties.
- Don’t be afraid to bring in an expert. If you find it too difficult to properly manage your finances, working with a financial planner or an accountant can help keep your spending/saving on track
- Figure out what you and your significant other’s Money Personality is. Whether you are similar when it comes to how the two of you view money or you are drastically different, being aware of your “styles” might give you a better understanding for why you do what you do.
- Be mindful that these types of conversations may be upsetting or triggering for some people. In order to navigate these discussions with ease, here are 5 mistakes to avoid when having the “money talk”.
Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement
If you and your partner are engaged (or hope to be someday soon) the time has come to start talking about prenups! If you have spent any time at all on HelloPrenup, then you probably already know what a prenuptial agreement is, but now you might be wondering how a prenup relates to financial infidelity. Here at HelloPrenup, financial disclosure is viewed as being extremely important, so that both parties have favorable enforcement should the marriage end in divorce. If either person decides not to be fully transparent about debt, bank accounts, assets, inheritance, etc. when drafting their prenup, it may come back to haunt them should things go south in the future. Withholding this information might not seem like infidelity right off the bat, but lack of disclosure before you even say “I Do” might set the tone for what is to come in the future.
You know what they say, money can’t buy you happiness… But unfortunately it can cause stress and heartache if you don’t handle it honestly with your romantic partner. Financial infidelity can wreak havoc on any relationship just like any other form of cheating can, leading to trust issues, uncertainty, and even the end of a relationship. It doesn’t have to be this way though, with a strong partnership, open communication, and transparency, you and your partner can thrive when it comes to your financial goals.
If you finished this blog with the desire to secure a prenup with your partner, our team is ready to assist you starting today! Don’t wait any longer, you can sign up here and get started.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]