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Financial Infidelity and How to Overcome It


What is financial infidelity?

Financial infidelity consists of hiding credit card purchases and other debts. It can even go as far as creating secret accounts that your partner doesn’t know about. It can also include making big financial decisions without consulting your partner. When you save money or spend, being honest with your partner can affect your financial future.

Financial infidelity vs. financial irresponsibility

Financial infidelity is lying to deceive your partner about how much money you are spending or bringing into the relationship. Many times financially irresponsible people will hide their spending and monetary habits from their partners.

Being financially irresponsible begins when a person ignores their financial duty before making purchases. For example, a person may make a purchase without checking their bank account before buying a new pair of shoes. Financial irresponsibility also includes prioritizing discretionary purchases over paying bills.

Signs that your partner may be engaged in secret financial acts

It is important to pick up on some signs that they are engaged in secret financial acts. Before your partner depletes your joint bank account. Establishing joint accounts requires financial literacy and can contribute to your shared goals over the long term. You may help them adjust their spending habits before they ruin your credit score.

Excessive spending

If your partner is making purchases you don’t see on your credit statements, they may have a secret, separate account. If you do see the activity, discuss how it is affecting your mutual finances.

Defensiveness or stonewalling

If your partner is suddenly defensive about financial questions, he to she may be hiding financial information from you. People may also stonewall to avoid the conversation altogether by changing the subject or shutting down completely.

Stonewalling and defensive behaviour doesn’t always mean that your partner is lying about finances. However, it is a good indicator that there is something wrong. Examine your financial statements when you notice defensiveness and stonewalling.

Money is a sensitive topic

When your partner reacts to financial questions with extreme emotion, there could be some monetary deception involved. It is a sign that something is amiss. Of course, not everyone is excited to talk about money. However, a strong negative response is a good indicator that there is a deeper issue going on.

If your partner will discuss financial struggles with emotional control, remember to be patient. They are most likely embarrassed about their spending and need help to get it under control.

Controlling behaviour

People who are hiding their financial indiscretions often may want to control your spending. They know that their spending is negatively affecting the finances and want to prevent excessive spending on your behalf. The controlling behaviour may take the form of demanding to know where you are going and how much you will spend. They may request to see all of your purchase receipts and advise you on what to buy.

Financial infidelity can take many forms

The most common forms of financial infidelity are lying about a purchase, hiding receipts, and spending money without telling a spouse. However, many other forms are just as damaging to a relationship.

Other methods of deceiving your significant other about finances include:

  • Lying about the cost of an item
  • Pretending a new purchase is old
  • Moving money from one account to another without telling your spouse
  • Opening up a credit card without consulting your spouse

What to Do About Financial Infidelity in Your Marriage

While financial infidelity can end a marriage, it doesn’t have to. It is simply a sign that you need to communicate and get on the same page. Creating a budget and counselling can be helpful steps to improving your relationship after one partner lies about money.

Create an open dialogue and come clean

It is important to be completely honest with your partner if you expect them to be honest with you. Every statement with your name on it should be open to your partner. You should discuss each purchase with your partner.

This may be uncomfortable if you are hiding something. But it’s important to know exactly where you are financially as a couple. If you can’t be open about your spending, you are a part of the problem.

Get on the same page

Financial infidelity often results from different spending habits and priorities. Many people who hide purchases from their spouse do so because they know the spouse won’t value the purchase. Otherwise, it isn’t in the budget. Sit down with your spouse and discuss what you will and will not spend money on.

Move forward with positive changes

  • Once you agree and have defined your financial goals, create steps to move forward with positive changes. As a couple, you should have financial goals that you are working towards. If these goals seem overwhelming, you’re not alone. Instead break up the goal into manageable tasks, for example: Get out of debt
  • Improve your credit score
  • Buy a house

Find areas of your current budget that you can cut if neither of you values the purchase. Discover ways to earn extra money to contribute to the family income. Meet weekly or monthly to discuss necessary and discretionary spending.

Get on a budget so you can spend without guilt

Lying about finances is often the result of uncertainty about spending priorities. Creating a budget that clearly defines how much you can spend reduces the guilt that comes with impulse purchases. When you have a good budget, you know how much you can spend without draining your savings account.


When financial infidelity continues after coming clean and creating a budget, it is time for marital counselling. Couple’s therapy provides a safe environment to discuss the challenges of the relationship, which can be very helpful. If you have been struggling with financial infidelity, counselling is worth a shot before giving up on the relationship.

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