Have you ever felt like your significant other was lying to you about money? Or, have you ever lied about money to them? It turns out this is very common among millennials. According to a survey by CentSai, 60% of millennials said “a romantic partner had either lied about money or hid money or debt from them.”
Interestingly enough, a recent study by the journal Family Relations showed that while married couples do argue about money, it’s not the number-one conflict they have.
However, even if it’s not the top argument couples have in terms of frequency, “marital conflicts about money were more pervasive, problematic, and recurrent, and remained unresolved, despite including more attempts at problem solving.”
That’s a pretty big deal.
Essentially, couples might not argue more about money than anything else, but when they do have those money fights, they come with a lot more emotion. They’re more intense; they’re harder to solve.
Then, when money problems can’t be resolved, that can lead to some financial infidelity. Financial infidelity can be as simple as hiding shopping bags in the trunk of your car all the way to having secret bank accounts or debt.
Needless to say, financial infidelity can be damaging to a relationship on any level. If you want to prevent financial infidelity or move your relationship forward after experiencing financial infidelity, below are tips on how to do just that.
Know Each Other’s Money Backgrounds
The way we’re raised and the lessons we’re taught about money as children truly impact how we use money as adults. My husband and I had very different upbringings. My parents showed me one way to handle money and his parents showed him another. This can make it hard to share a bank account at times.
Sometimes, people learn positive money lessons from our parents and carry them with us. Other times, we recognize that what we were taught might not be the best approach and we try to do the exact opposite with our own money.
You really have to have a candid discussion with your other half to understand the psychologybehind how they handle money. For example, maybe your other half wants you to buy all your clothes second-hand to save money but you secretly buy them brand new. This could be because your parents forced you to wear clothes from thrift stores as a child and now, as an adult, you want something different.
Or, maybe you saw your parents struggle with money and not be able to pay their mortgage. So, as a result, you hang on to your money and are afraid to invest while your spouse really wants to put money in the market.
These types of issues come up all the time in relationships. Sometimes, instead of arguing head to head on this issues, it can be helpful to take a step back and really understand why you have the money tendencies you do and whether they’re healthy.
Disclose Any and All Debt
For many people, debt is a source of shame. However, it’s better to disclose it sooner rather than later. Recently, the New York Times shared a story of a man who broke off his engagement four months before his wedding after finding out his fiancée had $170,000 worth of student loan debt. It’s upsetting to think maybe this could have been avoided by disclosing all debt (and not estimating or fudging it – giving your other half the cold, hard numbers).
I knew my spouse had debt when we got married, and he knew I had student loan debt, too. Not only that, but also we jointly made the decision to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars of more debt for him to go to medical school. Although I hate having so much debt, for us, it made sense because he was going to school to become a physician.
Make a Plan and Stick to It
It’s important to disclose your debt and take a look at your own money habits, but the best way to stay financially honest is to work together to make a plan.
When you sit down with your other half and discuss your short-term and long-term goals for the future, it helps you to be honest and stay on the same page. When you create a budget together and check in frequently, it helps to keep each other honest.
Remember What’s Important
Ultimately, if you’re in a committed relationship and you want it to last, remember what’s important. Hiding purchases (which 35% of people do) could harm your relationship more than help it.
So, even though it’s tough, discuss with your partner and disclose anything about your finances you haven’t before. Put it all out on the table. And, if there is hidden debt there, be vulnerable and tell your partner that you really want to find a way out of it – together.
The truth is that if you’re with the right person, they’ll want to be with you for you, but you both have to be willing to work on finances together in order to have a peaceful, happy partnership in the long run.
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