Is your partner cheating on you, financially?

Image: Keith Tamkei

For married couples, finances should ideally be shared openly between both parties. However, because of the personal nature of money, it is not uncommon for one partner to discover that their spouse has been engaged in financial dishonesty. “Financial infidelity” can take many forms. Some partners hide their debt; others try to hide assets so they can have a nest egg should there be a divorce down the line.                                                                               

When one partner keeps their financial habits completely secret and presents a false appearance to their partner, it can put both their lives in a very difficult position. In many instances, a spouse will become aware of a partner’s financial infidelity only when it’s too late and the damage has been done. 

For anyone who is married in community of property, it’s even more important to be aware of your partner’s spending habits as they will have a direct impact on you should you find yourselves in the divorce court. It’s not uncommon for people to discover their partner’s financial woes during an important process, like buying a house, where the couple has to share information about their spending and income in the form of bank statements.

It’s difficult to talk about money, but with financial disputes being one of the top strains on marriages today, having an open channel of communication is necessary if you want to have a happy relationship. If you suspect your partner is being unfaithful financially, below are some behaviours they may display.

Your partner knows everything about your finances, but you have no idea what’s going on with theirs.

If you are in this situation, have an honest conversation with your partner about accountability and transparency when it comes to your finances.
Your partner constantly buys new clothes and other big-ticket items without consulting you, but this isn’t in line with household spending or their income, if  known. Extravagance is a red flag, especially if your partner is a compulsive shopper and can’t possibly afford the things they buy. They could be working up hefty debt and keeping it a secret.

Your partner is unreasonably defensive when you ask them about their money and how they spend it.

In a relationship — especially if you’re married — transparency is important. You should have a good idea of what you partner does with their money and how it affects your household.

Misrepresenting your financial situation to close family or friends.

If you partner is constantly lying to people, then it’s not too farfetched to assume that they may be lying to you too, especially if you’ve noticed one or more of the behaviours above. They constantly shower you with gifts. While this is great, excessive gift giving, especially when it’s not backed up with fitting financial remuneration, can indicate your partner is feeling a level of guilt about their bad financial habits.

If you suspect your partner is being reckless with their money and hiding this from you — or they’re deliberately misrepresenting their financial situation to get out of having to disclose assets — then you should have a talk with them. Consult a family counsellor to help you work through your concerns, if need be. If you’re married and find yourself at the point of no return, seek legal counsel to assess your options.

Tsamela is a recovering debtaholic, financial markets enthusiast and founder of the personal finance site Follow her on twitter: @PiggieBanker

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