Marriage is challenging in many different ways but adding dishonesty to the mix can be disastrous. Trust is at the foundation of any good relationship and erosion of trust will destroy a marriage at record speed. What usually comes to mind when we talk about infidelity is the cheating spouse who’s taken a lover. But there’s another, more subtle and potentially even more devastating infidelity that is often overlooked. Financial infidelity can show up in a wide variety of ways and can range from minor offenses like that credit card he doesn’t know about to far more serious deceptions like filtering money to family members over many years to siphon off a personal nest egg from marital assets.
How do you recognize when it’s happening to you? Here are five signs that you should watch for.
#5 – You Haven’t Seen Bank Statements or Financial Documents in Years
NEVER let one spouse handle all the finances without meeting monthly to go over your balance sheet and goals. This is the perfect opportunity to get yourselves on the same financial team! If you’ve never done this, there is no better time to start than NOW! If you ask and the “keeper of the finances” gets nervous, procrastinates, or doesn’t want to meet with you, major red flag!
#4 – Unexplained Mood Changes
Is your spouse becoming easily agitated? Do they pop off with anger or display impatience that is out of proportion to the event? Financial turmoil causes stress! And that stress will reveal itself! In Part 1 of this series, you might recall the situation I described where the husband had whittled away two million dollars in savings over 10 years. The wife described an increasingly angry man who was very defensive about any perceived shortfalls in his behavior. He started a pattern of explaining himself in every little situation as though he were convincing himself that he was a “good guy”. He also became more and more withdrawn. When she would ask about anything related to their finances, he would bite her head off with things like, “Stop nagging me! I’ve got it under control! What are you worried about?”
#3 – A Lifestyle That Doesn’t Match Earnings
Is your spouse a highly paid professional but you haven’t had a decent vacation in years? Does he/she have a Mercedes job but drives a Honda and insists you do the same? Are you on an “allowance,” but your spouse is not? Do you have to ask permission for every purchase? All of these are indicators of financial infidelity and shouldn’t be tolerated in a mutually respectful marriage. It’s reasonable to have a money plan with budgets and goals. But if you are forbidden from monitoring and enjoying the fruits of your frugal lifestyle, it’s another red flag.
#2 – Car Insurance Rates Go Up
If you get a letter from your insurance company notifying you that your auto insurance rates are going up due to a change in your rating, this could be a loud indicator that the other spouse not only has credit cards you don’t know about but isn’t making the payments on time either.
#1 – Mail Stops Being Delivered
If you notice that a Southwest Visa credit card statement comes every month and always has and then it stops, or if the online passwords are no longer working when you decide to look at the bills, beware. Ask about it, of course, but a very common method of financial deception is to have bills sent to the office or a relative’s, so they aren’t discovered. If you have gone digital, you should have access to passwords and take a look at those bills and balances regularly.
These things are no fun to deal with and I’ve seen this type of behavior ruin one marriage after another. When it comes to money, honesty is always the best policy – especially between spouses. Have a conversation with your mate today and be sure you’re both on the same page.
If you feel you are headed for divorce and unsure of what that might mean for you financially call us for a financial strategy session. We will help you start in the right direction.