One of the top issues that couples fight about is money. From worrying about having enough to cover the bills to disagreeing over how to invest your earnings, emotions often run high when it comes to money. When you add in financial infidelity, you have a recipe for disaster.
Financial infidelity occurs when people hide their financial behavior from their partners, whether it’s by maintaining secret credit cards or undisclosed bank accounts, or by lying about their spending or hiding their purchases.
It is more common than you might think. A recent Forbes.com survey found that 31 percent of Americans have lied to their spouses about money. A separate survey led by CESI Debt Solutions found that 80 percent of Americans spend money without their partners’ awareness.
Of course, you shouldn’t have to have a discussion before making small purchases or grabbing lunch on a busy day. Unless one or both of you has financial issues, there’s no reason why you can’t trust each other to spend money without prior approval. However, once financial infidelity comes into play, that trust can be forever damaged.
It’s easy to understand how this behavior can be very dangerous to a relationship: Not only can it threaten your individual financial stability but it also affects the financial security of your partner and your family. Sometimes it can even lead to the loss of a home or other beloved items that cannot be replaced.
More importantly, financial infidelity destroys the trust between you and your partner. Some might say that it isn’t as devastating as sexual infidelity, but the reality is that many of the behaviors are the same: You are leading a separate life that your partner doesn’t know about, even as you realize that your actions are causing harm to your future. You are lying about your actions and hiding things from your partner, so even if it’s just something as seemingly harmless as stashing away bags of clothes in your closet, the behavior can be indicative of something much more dangerous: a shopping addiction.
A shopping addiction is an addiction like any other. The addict gets a "high" from making purchases, only to later feel great guilt and shame when the rush of endorphins and adrenaline wears off. Like other addicts, shopping addicts tend to turn to their addiction during times of stress, anxiety, or boredom, and they use their addiction to cope with the feelings that they can’t ever seem to shop away. If this sounds familiar, and if you are hiding your purchases from your partner or going deeper and deeper into debt every day, it’s time to seek help. There are resources available, whether it’s individual therapy, a 12-step program, or visiting a site like Stopping Overshopping.
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