A Warning Against Financial Dishonesty

In a marriage, hiding the truth is never a good idea… and when it comes to money, technology is only making it more difficult to cover your tracks. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the perils of hiding financial information from your spouse, consulting with divorce lawyers, accountants, and forensic experts about sneaky transactions, digital paper trails, and the oh-so-common fight over money. For couples that may already be having trouble in their marriage, money can very quickly become a point of contention, and all too often, it becomes something that husbands and wives try to hide from one another. Whether they’re hiding money to protect assets in the event of a divorce, spending on luxuries they don’t want their spouse to know about, or sending funds to a secret lover, the subject of financial dishonesty comes up time and time again. The experts interviewed for the WSJ article all agree – it’s only getting harder to pull off. Because so many of our transactions happen digitally, bank and credit card usage is that much easier to track. For suspicious spouses, technology has made it significantly easier to track online interactions, bank statements, and the like. Even though some of the practices may be illegal, it doesn’t stop prying eyes from discovering what’s really going on. The simple truth is that financial dishonesty is almost always discovered, if not by one member of the marriage, then by a hired expert, lawyer, or forensic detective. Records can be obtained, cell phones tracked, and the deceitful actions come to light eventually. Why do couples do this, though? What drives them to hide money from one another, or to lie about where the money is being spent? The experts agree that financial woes are usually the reflection of other issues, and stem from a trend of mismanagement throughout the marriage. The solution? Be open and honest with your money, and combine your finances from the get go! Maintaining separate bills and separate accounts sets the tone for the way a married couple will manage their money; it creates a sense of “mine” and “yours” instead of “ours.” Making financial decisions together will strengthen the sense of unity in the marriage, and ensure that both parties are satisfied with the way money is being spent. This means working out a budget together, making joint decisions about expenses, and most importantly, being totally transparent about spending. Do you find yourself fighting with your spouse about money? Maybe it’s time to reorganize the way you manage your money, and get on the same page before you find yourself going to extremes. Money should be something that supports the life you want to live with your spouse, not a way to exert power or gain an advantage. When husbands and wives hide things from one another, especially money, the truth inevitably comes out – so why even bother? You’ll be happier, more financially secure, and a whole lot more trusting of one another if you can openly talk about your finances as a household instead of as individuals. Are you and your spouse having money troubles? Have you experienced financial dishonesty? Let us know in the comments below!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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10 comments

manuel 6 years ago

I hid a bank account from my spouse for over a year. Boy do i regret that. I changed my account back in nov, because of irs troubles. Now she kicked me out of the house. But one.month ago i began to have my check go directly into her savings account. I told her that I don't want any more problems with money. Thats why its going into her account. But im still out of the house. What can i do to return home?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

Hi Manuel - All you can do is keep doing what you are. Be open and honest. Your mistake did not happen overnight, and neither will her forgiveness. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/important-problem/trust-yt/

manuel 6 years ago

I went over last night to talk to her and see the kids, but they never opened the door. So i wrote her a letter saying i love u, i miss u and the kids. And left on the door. She wont rerturn my calls or texts. What should i do?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 6 years ago

I think the letter was a great idea. You need to be able to give her space to work things and show her you respect her and your family. Be honest about why you kept it from her, and humble. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/save-marriage-spouse-wont-talk/

manuel 5 years ago

I was able to talk to my wife yesterday, even though she was mad and tired. I told her that i was sorry that i wasn't the person i should have been. I also told her that being separated has given me a chance to look at things from a Different pperspective. Even though she was cussing and yelling, i was able to remain calm. She said that i broke trust with her and the she had no feelings for me anymore. She keeps insisting on filing for Divorce but i dont believe in it. help im heart broken and need help.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 5 years ago

Hi Manuel - I'm proud of you for staying calm. She is not ready to yet, and that's okay. It hurts to have trust broken. I encourage you to find a local therapist to help you through this, even if your wife will not come to counseling.

manuel 5 years ago

Im searching for one. She keeps saying she can't trust me, but i reminded her that im committed to rebuilding our relationship, i even been reading books and order marriage help books from barnes and noble. Im remaining patient but at the same time working on my self. Any suggestions?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 5 years ago

Hi Manuel - Just to keep doing as you are. It will take time. Best wished for you both.

manuel 5 years ago

Ive been in and out of the hospital and er for the last 3weeks. Yet this seperation is killing me and taking a toll on me. There are times that my wife calls me and we talk but lately she has been ignoring me. I was in the hospital for a week and one day she called me and told me that one of her lungs had been hurting, so i told her to come to the hospital and have and X ray done. As she waited she went up to the room where i was. Then i went down stairs in a wheelchair to keep her company as we talked i hugged her and she rested her head on my shoulder. Twice, then as she was leaving i gave her a kiss on the cheek. But then i dont know what happened, two days after she didn't call me at all. And today she was upset because I went to the house to get a letter that i ve been waiting for. Then i asked her if we could talk and she was mad and telling me that we could talk after my daughter's concert at school but aftet it was done she said she didnt want to do this right now. Please help i miss my wife and kids. What should i do?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 5 years ago

Hi Manuel, be patient. This didn't happen in a day, and it won't be fixed in a day. Remember the year you lied to your wife. She certainly is, and this isn't something she can just set aside. She is likely feeling conflicted, and wants to trust you again, but it's hard. Again, be patient. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/truth-anger/