As 2010 closes today, hopefully it was a wonderful year filled with joy and happiness. Maybe you got married this year, had a baby, or all around just had a wonderful year. For some of you, 2010 may not have been a joyride. This year may have seen the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or major problems in your marriage. One major problem that can occur in a marriage is financial infidelity. Let’s explore what I mean by that.
Financial infidelity is when a spouse does things with money secretly so that the other spouse does not know about it. It could be opening a credit card and buying things without the other spouse knowing. Maybe it was gambling all of their savings away. For a young marriage, it could be that one spouse never told the other about the $50,000 in debt they have. No matter the method, financial infidelity can wreak havoc on your marriage. In some ways, it can carry the same weight as infidelity with another person. The unknowing spouse will feel betrayed, stupid, and all around hurt. In fact, those are all legitimate feelings. So, what do you do from here?
First, understand that healing will take time. If you are the offender, it is ridiculous to think that your spouse will get over it immediately. You have hurt them deeply and sometimes only time can truly heal.
Second, the offending spouse must become an open book. No more trips to the store by yourself. Your spouse does not need to be worrying about what you are spending while you are there. No more individual e-mail accounts. If you buy something online, your spouse should know about it via a confirmation e-mail. No more control of the savings or checking accounts for the offender. You have lost that privilege and it is up to the non-offending spouse to take control of the accounts. Even if you, as the non-offending spouse, don’t like to do the checkbook, it is your responsibility (for now anyway) to take care of it.
The key here is that trust has to be earned back. Financial infidelity is an extremely serious situation and can ruin a marriage. It often is a symptom of something else going on within the marriage as well. It is imperative that you find out what the root of the problem is, which may mean seeing a professional marriage counselor. When it is all said and done, the bottom line is that you need to hold onto each other and work through it. It is only a small period of time in your wonderful 50-60 years together.
Although you may not be dealing with financial infidelity in your marriage, you still may really be struggling financially. As I just said, whatever you do, hold onto each other. You may lose your car, all of your savings, and maybe even your house. You can get all of those things back later. In fact, it is much easier to get them back together, instead of individually. So, as you begin 2011, remember that no matter what you will face this year, you are on the same team. Remember the reasons you fell in love with your spouse and concentrate on those qualities. You will get through this and it will be another story to tell to your grandkids thirty years from now.