Financial deception in marriage or any intimate partner relationship is equally damaging as sexual infidelity. As explained in our last article titled, “Financial Infidelity: Cheating with Money”, no matter how seemingly small, lies and deception about money undermine trust and commitment in relationships. The good news, however, is that relationships can and do recover from the damage caused by financial infidelity.
Let us recap and define financial infidelity – it is any monetary engagement or transaction carried out without the knowledge of your spouse or partner, and intentionally failing to disclose such undertaking. It could be spending money, holding secret accounts or stacks of cash, borrowing money, etc.
The first, and probably the most crucial step, to overcome this deceptive behaviour is to come clean – to admit financial infidelity. Seek to understand the root cause of such behaviour before you confess to your partner. In the first place, be prepared for anger and resentment. Like any infidelity, your partner will be offended. It is therefore sensible to find a suitable time to confess when you are both clear-headed. Once you have laid out your confession, listen without getting defensive, and seek forgiveness. With a contrite heart, your partner is likely to be forgiving than when you are defensive.
Being transparent can be a daunting task, especially if you are in the wrong. However, it is a step worth taking to rebuild trust in your relationship. Most importantly, it should not only be one-sided. It will take both of you to work together to repair the damage that has been caused by financial infidelity. In this case, you both have to agree to disclose all the information about your sources of income, bank accounts, loans, etc. Disclosing such information may be hard at first for both of you, but it is crucial to rebuilding a healthy relationship.
The next step is to work together as a couple to create a recovery plan. This plan involves concrete steps that you will take as a couple to create and follow a budget, pay outstanding loans, and set timelines. You may commit to reviewing your recovery plan every month to track progress. Also, make yourselves accountable to each other. By holding each other accountable, you will be in a better position to follow your plan.
Another important aspect of the healing process is to know each other’s weaknesses and strengths when it comes to finances. Your spending patterns may be different but it does not mean you cannot be together. As intimate partners, your strength lies in complementing each other and working as a team. Be willing to make some compromises to reach your collective objective – to rebuild trust and start on a clean slate.
Lastly, like every recovery process, it will take time to get back on track. However, with forgiveness, love, consistency and commitment, any relationship can recover from financial infidelity.
Should you still feel you cannot trust again or the situation may be challenging to address it by yourselves, it would be a wise decision to seek help from a professional counsellor.