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How to deal with financial infidelity

Trust issues within relationships are potentially toxic and may begin or hasten a path towards the end of a partnership. Many of us associate trust issues with partners checking our phones or asking how many members of the opposite sex work in the office. However, issues around trusting each other with your finances can potentially be even more of a problem.

Krista Lomu
· 7 min read

When you hear the word infidelity, you might think about situations where your spouse runs off with another person. But there is a different kind of cheating that’s more commonplace than many people think. Financial infidelity can end up causing havoc and ruin your finances. What exactly is financial infidelity, and how can you deal with it?

What is financial infidelity?

Financial infidelity refers to the act of lying about money and finances to your spouse.

Examples of financial infidelity in action can look like this:

  • You don’t share how much money you make.
  • You lie about or hide information about your spending.
  • You aren’t honest about what you’re spending money on.
  • You conceal the amount of debt you have.

Money is still a big taboo in our society, and financial infidelity is much more common than you might think. A 2019 study conducted by Lloyds Bank found that over a fifth (23%) of people in a relationship admitted to lying about money to their partner. The most common lie was to conceal the amount of debt they had. While the lies are not always big, continuous small lies can be just as harmful to relationships.

What to do you if you suspect financial infidelity?

The consequences of financial infidelity can be devastating, especially if the lies have been going on for years or even decades. In many cases, financial infidelity can feel worse than finding your spouse in bed with someone else.

What are the practical steps you should take to deal with financial infidelity?

Talk to your spouse

The first thing to do is to open a dialogue with your spouse. You shouldn’t run to them and accuse them of hiding or lying. Approaching your spouse with pitchforks will rarely lead to a good outcome. If you feel angry, then it’s a good idea to let your feelings calm down a little before talking.

The main thing is to have an open conversation. You want to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all! However, it would help if you didn’t try solving all your problems at once. If the conversation seems to be going nowhere, it might even be worth seeking outside help, such as counselling or mediation.

Open up about finances

It’s also essential for both of you to start opening up about your finances. If you’ve never discussed finances before, then now is an excellent time to start. Go over your financial situation together, as partners. You can start creating a roadmap together out of the situation and set rules regarding how you want to handle and talk about money going forward.

Find outside help

Depending on the severity of the financial situation, you need to get to the bottom of the behaviour. Spending can spiral out of control, and your spouse might be acting recklessly because of another deep-rooted issue. Mind is a fantastic charity providing lots of help and resources for people suffering from problem spending. Likewise, you might also want to have private conversations with other parties to help you deal with the feelings of betrayal, anger, or resentment you might feel towards your spouse. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

There is also financial counselling available. It’s essential to get help if you aren’t sure how to get out of the debt your spouse has put you in. Later in this article, you can find details of services offering help with debt repayment and budgeting. Depending on the kind of behaviour your partner is going through, it can be worth contacting organisations such as BeGambleAware. The NHS also provides lots of information and tools for people suffering from addictions. You can learn more about how to deal with addictive behaviour and receive practical tips to prevent future spending.

Create a financial plan for the future

If the financial infidelity has led to a lot of debt, you need to create a debt repayment plan. The best thing to do is make it together after you have both come clean about your finances. If your relationship with your partner has completely broken down, get help to fully understand what a possible divorce might mean for your finances. There is legal help available to you. You can find free tools and resources through Citizens Advice or Divorce Aid; both offer information as well as tips on how to contact a divorce lawyer.

If you have a joint account with your partner, then it’s a good idea to contact the bank or building society and ask for certain restrictions. For example, if you are worried your spouse will keep withdrawing large sums of money from the account, you can place restrictions on withdrawals. For joint accounts, it is possible to make it so that both account holders must give permission for certain things.

You could also consider contacting and registering with Cifas. It offers a Protective Registration service that contacts you if anyone makes account applications in your name. This can be a good system if you are worried your spouse might use your private information to open new credit card accounts or take out loans.

What if you have been lying about money to your spouse?

You might be reading this article and realise that you are the one hiding a secret. As the earlier statistic showed, lying about finances to your spouse is relatively common. What should you do if you feel like you’ve not been honest about money?

The most important thing is to start that dialogue and come clean. It can feel scary, but financial infidelity doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. You should also remember to reach out to the organisations listed above. They can help you deal with any addictive behaviour you might have and offer practical advice.

Don’t forget, you can also contact the following organisations to deal with your debt issues:

Dealing with financial infidelity

Financial infidelity can feel like the end of the world. But it doesn’t have to be. The important thing is to start talking about money and figuring out a path forward. It’s important to step away to avoid immediate reaction and rash decisions. Remember, there is a lot of help available to deal with the emotional impact and help you move forward to a better financial future.

Krista Lomu

Krista Lomu

Krista has been writing about finance for nearly a decade. Based in London, she hopes to turn even the most complicated topics to approachable and interesting for readers. When she's not writing and working with small businesses, she likes to read, watch football and play games - fuelled on by many cups of coffee!
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