On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to pretend that everything is fine in your relationship. Every other day? Not really. That’s why it’s so important to answer questions like these: Have you ever lied to your spouse or partner about the cost of something? What would you say get into debt your significant other knows nothing? Or loan money that is supposed to be yours to a friend or relative?
All of these transgressions fall into the broad category of financial infidelity – which encompasses everything from obscuring the truth to omitting important (but relevant) information to outright lying. They’re all bad, experts say, but they’re not all equally bad. For example, Matt Lundquist, a couples therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York, says he would consider gambling or making a high-stakes investment without your partner’s knowledge four times as serious as, say, buying a wife. a new garment but tell your partner, it comes from the back of your closet. For this reason, we are particularly concerned about the 27% of respondents to the Financial Shades of Gray Quiz we posted about The Balance who went into debt without telling his partner. We’re also more worried about the 20% who lent money without discussing it first than the 41% who lied about how much something cost. (Full disclosure: We did too.)
How does your behavior – or that of your partner – compare? This seems like a very good topic to discuss in this week of love. You can of course take our quiz or just keep reading to find out how far you are from the danger zone.
If you’re hiding things like accounts, cards, or large debt from your partner, the degree of financial dishonesty in your relationship is troubling.
If you feel like an open book when it comes to money…
Congratulations, your result is in the “light gray” zone, like 78% of quiz participants. If you and your partner are fairly transparent about money (i.e. your biggest transgression is removing the tags from new clothing to make it look older or hiding crazy money in your underwear drawer), congratulations are in order. What if you want to take your relationship to the next level financially? Try schedule a conversation about money over dinner (or wine) about once a month. Talk about the things you both want your money to do for you (it could be anything from travel to philanthropy), and look at a year, five years, or even 10 years. Focus on being open and honest with each other and, most importantly, listening.
If you hide certain things…
If you’ve done things like use your partner’s money or credit card without their permission – or keep quiet about how much you have/earn – you’re a “misty gray”, like 20% of our quiz takers . Ask yourself (and this is just between you and you, so you can be honest): why do I feel like I have to keep certain things hidden? Maybe it’s because you’re resentful about something – maybe there’s a power imbalance in the relationship or you’re not on the same page about it. is about money and your goals. Understand that money can be the symptom, not the problem. “Money is where it appears – there’s usually a deeper reason,” says Debbi King, author of “50 Shades of Money.” Discuss the problem with your partner. But rather than phrasing it as “I did this wrong thing objectively,” use language like “I recognize that I’m doing something that’s at odds with the kind of people we agreed to be together,” explains Matt Lundquist, couples therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York. Be prepared in case your partner has a stronger (or softer) reaction than you anticipated. Something else to keep in mind? When you apologize, give enough information so they know why you’re apologizing, but give them a chance to decide what they can handle at the time, says Lundquist — for example, “Are you you ready to know more?” Address your specific concerns (e.g. fear that you don’t have the same long-term savings goals or feel like one of you has a lot more financial control), listen to what they express and think of ways you could both be a little more open and honest. Next, talk about upcoming financial obligations in the next few weeks or months and how you will meet them, as well as long-term financial goals. If you can’t get to the table, schedule time with an unbiased third party, like a financial planner or therapist, to do it with you.
If you find yourself hiding a lot of stuff (like entire accounts, credit cards, or the total amount of your debt)…
You are in the “charcoal gray” category, like 2% of respondents. We’re not going to water it down. If you’re hiding things like accounts, cards, or large debt from your partner, the degree of financial dishonesty in your relationship is troubling, especially because when couples regularly hide these things from each other, it can lead to more problems. (and divisions) on the road. Ask yourself why you can’t tell your partner about these things and why you feel you have to hide them. If you can honestly understand why you act the way you do through self-reflection or conversations with loved ones – and if you think this understanding can help you get the behavior under control – you can try to solve this problem on your own, says Lundquist. But if you’re struggling to understand what’s driving your behavior or want someone to hold you accountable, consider seeking help from a counselor or therapist. Note that if you think the problem is with things you need to fix on your own, it’s a good idea to seek help from an individual therapist, at least initially. Consider seeing a couples therapist or marriage counselor if you think there are relationship issues at play (for example, you are acting financially because you are angry at something your partner has done or you’re not sure about the income imbalance, says Lundquist).
With Hayden Field