In this day and age, we, as human beings are more likely to think that infidelity is one of the greatest betrayals in relationships. However, financial infidelity continues to destroy many relationships, and lead to unhappiness in the home, and, sadly, even divorce. Although some people would not want to admit it, money does affect relationships, and is almost as important as emotional security, loyalty and trust in partnership.
The truth is, everyone should have some financial freedom, but it must be balanced with accountability in a partnership or marriage. It’s important to be real about your expenses, by drawing out a budget and financial goals.
Financial infidelity is defined as lying to your partner about how much you spend, save or borrow, or the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit cards and holding secrets, as well as stashing away or borrowing money behind your partner’s back. This is common among partners who live together, are married or have joint accounts or expenses.
A survey states that about 6 percent of people living with their partners conceal assets from their partners.
Kagiso Selale recalls that financial infidelity ended his five-year relationship with his past girlfriend. “We were very close and shared everything. Although in the initial stages of the relationship I noticed that she had a high taste in clothes, alcohol and holidays, I thought she would grow up as the years went by, but I was wrong! After two years of dating, we moved in together and opened a joint account were we both deposited money for household expenses.”
Selale notes that this arrangement worked well until his girlfriend started making excuses and not contributing to the household expenses.
“This depleted my financial resources because I was earning a mere P7000 at the time. I had to send money back home, pay off my small personal debts, save, and have some left over for entertainment. I ended up not enjoying certain things to support both of us,” he explains.
This went on for several months until one day, while clearing up their bedroom, Selale came across his girlfriend’s pay slip.
“It was torn open so I flipped it and when my eyes landed on the figure, I nearly collapsed! Her take home was P16 000! I couldn’t believe it because she always cried about being broke and was always taking money from me.”
To add salt to injury, she spent this money on holidays, clothes and partying with her friends. I was broken because I felt deceived and betrayed,” he said.
This spelled the end of the relationship.
“When I approached her she was very cheeky, claiming that I was jealous because I earned peanuts. That was my cue to leave. I can date and marry a woman who earns more than me, but she still has to respect me as a partner, and be honest,” he adds.
Well-known psychotherapist, Tina Tessina, popularly known as ‘Dr. Romance’, shares that money, apart from sex and children, is a major cause of most arguments in marriages. “When people make a promise to love, honour and cherish another person, the faithfulness implied doesn’t include money but it does. In today’s tumultuous economic times, losing trust in your partner’s ability to handle money can be a tough pill to swallow, and create tension in the home,” says Tessina, who has also written a book on the topic.
Kedidimetse Megwe learnt this the hard way, when she discovered that her husband had a lover, whom he gave money to.
“I noticed odd withdrawals from our bank account. Sometimes in the middle of the night, there would be withdrawals at nightclubs and restaurants. Every time I confronted him, he got bersek and accused me of being troublesome,” she says.
When her children started suffering she put her foot down. “I withdrew and opened my own bank. At least then, I could control my own finances. I lost faith in him and filed for divorce two years later.
It’s one thing that he was cheating on me, but I couldn’t understand how he would not financially prioritise his family.”
According to a survey carried out by global online payment company, Pay Pal, in 2007, about 82 percent of the individuals interviewed said that they had lied to their spouses about their shopping purchases.
Thabiso* has been married for almost six years now, but her husband is not aware of some purchases she makes. “My husband is stingy and frugulent when it comes to money. I usually don’t tell him about niceties purchases because he will throw his toys out of the cot.”
She also added that she realised that one should analyse what kind of money manager their partner is, a saver, hoarder or spendthrift. “A spendthrift should be with a saver, because the other controls the situation. I have friends who are both spendthrifts and they are always broke and fighting!
I rely on my husband to put away some money for a rainy day…”