In a marriage, hiding the truth is never a good idea… and when it comes to money, technology is only making it more difficult to cover your tracks. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the perils of hiding financial information from your spouse, consulting with divorce lawyers, accountants, and forensic experts about sneaky transactions, digital paper trails, and the oh-so-common fight over money.
For couples that may already be having trouble in their marriage, money can very quickly become a point of contention, and all too often, it becomes something that husbands and wives try to hide from one another. Whether they’re hiding money to protect assets in the event of a divorce, spending on luxuries they don’t want their spouse to know about, or sending funds to a secret lover, the subject of financial dishonesty comes up time and time again.
The experts interviewed for the WSJ article all agree – it’s only getting harder to pull off. Because so many of our transactions happen digitally, bank and credit card usage is that much easier to track. For suspicious spouses, technology has made it significantly easier to track online interactions, bank statements, and the like. Even though some of the practices may be illegal, it doesn’t stop prying eyes from discovering what’s really going on.
The simple truth is that financial dishonesty is almost always discovered, if not by one member of the marriage, then by a hired expert, lawyer, or forensic detective. Records can be obtained, cell phones tracked, and the deceitful actions come to light eventually.
Why do couples do this, though? What drives them to hide money from one another, or to lie about where the money is being spent?
The experts agree that financial woes are usually the reflection of other issues, and stem from a trend of mismanagement throughout the marriage. The solution? Be open and honest with your money, and combine your finances from the get go!
Maintaining separate bills and separate accounts sets the tone for the way a married couple will manage their money; it creates a sense of “mine” and “yours” instead of “ours.” Making financial decisions together will strengthen the sense of unity in the marriage, and ensure that both parties are satisfied with the way money is being spent. This means working out a budget together, making joint decisions about expenses, and most importantly, being totally transparent about spending.
Do you find yourself fighting with your spouse about money? Maybe it’s time to reorganize the way you manage your money, and get on the same page before you find yourself going to extremes. Money should be something that supports the life you want to live with your spouse, not a way to exert power or gain an advantage.
When husbands and wives hide things from one another, especially money, the truth inevitably comes out – so why even bother? You’ll be happier, more financially secure, and a whole lot more trusting of one another if you can openly talk about your finances as a household instead of as individuals.
Are you and your spouse having money troubles? Have you experienced financial dishonesty? Let us know in the comments below!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com