Financial Infidelity

By John Wagner, M.S.
Certified Advanced Imago Relationship Therapist


A trend that seems to be invading contemporary marriages and committed relationships more and more is what has come to be called “financial infidelity”. This type of infidelity occurs when a spouse is spending money or puts money in an area that is being kept from the other person in the relationship.

The first area that comes to mind is probably the worst type. That occurs when it is being used to engage in an extramarital affair. Not only is there a betrayal relationally but money is being used to support this affair. Often this type of infidelity leads to large sums of money being used which could have been used in the marriage.

Ruth Houston, the author of “Is He Cheating On You” says the following nine behaviors may be indicators of a spouse’s infidelity:

-Credit card statements that reflect charges for flowers, jewelry or other gift items that the spouse did not receive.

-Unauthorized or surprise withdrawals from joint bank accounts.

-Deposit slips or bank statements that indicate the existence of a previously unknown checking or savings account in the wife’s/husband’s name only.

-The liquidation of assets (stocks and bonds, stamp or coin collections, artwork, etc.) without a plausible explanation.

-Misrepresentation of or failure to mention raises, bonuses or overtime pay.

-Income tax returns that reveal unexplained or previously unknown travel-related deductions.

As a purist in working with couples in Orlando, Florida, I see this issue on a regular basis in relationships. Examples of issues that come up are telling your spouse you bought something on sale when you didn’t is a lie. Hiding five figure credit card debt is a Big Lie. One husband wrote that he used to lie about how much he paid for things and hides purchases from his wife. He didn’t want to fight with her “over spending that much money,” or whether the spending was necessary. One husband I worked with would do major expenditures on his expensive sports car and not inform his wife.

Trust is so important to create an environment for couples to make it over the long term relationship. It is important to remember in biblical times the life span was around 35 to 40 years and when a couple were married the length might be 10 to 15 years. Now with many reaching the century mark we could be married 45 to 65 years as my parents were.

Lies do nothing but erode trust, compromise the teller’s integrity and can make the person who is lied to feel really, really bad and unimportant. Lies may signal significant problems in the relationship.

Personally, I think the problem lies in the philosophy many bring to the marriage around finances. So many couples I work with feel that it is my money and your money. That philosophy is so contrary to the idea of Covenant Marriage from a biblical perception. In covenant what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine.

As an Imago Relationship Therapist we try to encourage couples to enter into contracts over these types of issues. Our position is first that the marriage has to be the priority. In any decision does it take into consideration is this good for the marriage? If it is not, then we should not proceed. When my marriage is the priority I might lose something that is important to me and my wife may lose something that is important to her, but the return on that relationship investment brings back such a return of utter bliss that it is well worth it.

For finances a contract might look like an agreement to not spend over a certain amount unless both agree to it. There needs to be some level of autonomy for each person so that it does not feel like an allowance is being asked for. Contracts can help greatly, but a certain level of trust needs to be stabilized first.


John Wagner Bio:
Dedicated to helping individuals and companies achieve greater results as an Author, Nationally Certified Counselor, Life Coach, and Family Business Consultant in practice since 1992. His primary focus is in healing relationships and managing major change in businesses. Served in the business world for firms such as W. Clement Stone, Sears, Merrill Lynch, and Gordon's Jewelry as sales manager and sales trainer. Known as a national relationship specialist and succession planning specialist. Graduated in 1967 from University of South Florida and in 1994 from Troy University with a M.S. degree in psychology. He has been on national TV talk shows and radio shows and traveled the U.S. doing seminars for reaching your potential in life

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