What to Do When Your Partner (Financially) Cheats on You
Financial infidelity can come in many forms. It doesn’t necessarily mean the other person is using money for drugs, gambling, or a mistress. It can be as simple as one person surprising the other with a luxurious vacation, while hiding the fact that they had to max out their credit cards and drain their emergency fund to do so.
So what do you do if you discover your partner has committed financial infidelity?
1. Ask Why Your Partner is Doing This
Getting to the root of the problem is important in your understanding of why it occurred and how to move forward from it. Is there an addiction at play (shopping or otherwise)? Does your partner not understand the consequences of their bad financial habits? Do they simply not respect your financial goals? Talk to your partner about what influenced their decision making. You may find that they had good intentions, but bad judgement. Arriving at a place of understanding will help you move forward together.
2. Ask Whether There Are There Larger Issues at Hand?
Financial infidelity can sometimes be just the tip of the iceberg. This is an opportunity to take a deeper look at your relationship. You’ll need to discuss with your partner whether there are larger issues present, such as whether your partner’s long-term goals have changed (i.e. do they no longer want to save to start a family?) or whether their spending is tied to stress and anxiety.
3. Set Up a Recovery Plan
If you caught your partner before too much damage was done, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes there is a simple resolution such as returning an expensive purchase or working out a payment plan. If your partner has been hiding big financial secrets for much longer, then you may want to consider discussing a course of action together with a financial planner or attorney. Getting back on track will involve setting clear financial rules and goals that you must both agree to respect. Reassess your budget and financial goals and reestablish your respective roles when it comes to finances in your relationship.
4. Rebuild Trust
This can often be the hardest step in recovering from financial infidelity. The key is to keep the lines of communication open and free of judgement. Depending on the severity of your situation and whether there are larger issues at play, you may want to consider going to couples counseling. Be sure to have regular, casual conversations about money, check in on your budget and monthly spending habits, and understand that recovery – financially and emotionally – doesn’t happen overnight.
If your significant other has committed financial infidelity, there are ways to recover. The most important thing is to deal with the emotions involved – fear, anger, betrayal – and make a plan to move forward together. Reassess your financial goals and ensure you aren’t making any other financial mistakes that can put undue stress on your relationship. Have you or your partner ever kept financial secrets? What steps did you take to get back on track?