HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Financial infidelity, or money secrets, in relationships is on the rise. That’s according to a recent study conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Experts say those secrets are nothing to play around with, especially when they affect those you love.
When two people are in a relationship, whether they are married or just committed and living together, it often prompts them to be more upfront about joint expenses, income and spending.
But technology has made keeping money secrets easier. People can opt to receive digital bank statements and bills rather than receiving them in the mail — a way to keep your partner out of the loop.
Choya Wise, a Huntsville-area relationship counselor, said financial infidelity often stems from a need not being met and a fear of expression.
“A lot of times when an individual has been financially unfaithful they may have shopping habits,” explained Wise. “That’s to treat a need. Sometimes they may buy things from the store and never even use them.”
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, more than 40 percent of adults who combine finances with a partner have admitted to financially deceiving their loved one.
Acts of financial infidelity include secret credit card debt, withholding income information, gambling habits and undisclosed bank accounts.
“It can take the house down. What’s problematic is that we may not be able to pay our bills. What’s problematic is that we’re not able to show trust in one another,” added Wise.
He said some secrets are kept to retain financial freedom and prevent complete control in the relationship.
“A lot of times it’s because I feel like I need to have a sense of control and autonomy over what I do and I don’t need you in my way trying to tell me how to spend my money,” explained Wise.
But he wants to remind couples that key is, and always will be, an open line of communication.
“We fall into a situation where we can’t move forward with the concerns that we have about each other because we can’t talk it out.”
That’s a predicament, Wise said, no couple should want to be in.
Wise believes that couples should actively discuss and work through their issues. Whether that be with a pastor, mutually trusted friend or family member or a counselor like him.
He acknowledged that it will take lots of work and understanding to mend these issues, but the effort is worth the reward.