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Is your spouse guilty of committing financial infidelity?

family-debt.jpgMost Chicago-area residents would likely agree that there's no room for infidelity in a healthy marriage. However, not all types of infidelity involve another man or woman. In fact, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education, so-called financial infidelity is common among roughly one-third of couples who have combined financial accounts.

From amassing thousands of dollars in secret credit card debt to making undisclosed big-ticket purchases, spouses who fail to discuss and get on the same page with a husband or wife about finances may be headed towards both financial ruin and divorce.

According to the 2013 study, "Examining the Relationship between Financial Issues and Divorce," married couples fight more about money and finances than any other topic. This is true even of couples who share and are forthright about how much they make and how much debt they have. Factor in a husband or wife who is intentionally lying to a spouse about such matters and a marriage is almost destined to end in divorce. So why do some spouses commit financial infidelity?

As one may expect, the reasons cited by spouses who commit financial infidelity are varied and complex. In some cases, a spouse may be ashamed of a job loss or low salary and attempt to hide the truth. In other cases, a husband or wife may simply fear a spouse's disapproval of his or her spending. Additionally, a spouse may be struggling with a gambling or drug addiction problem or simply fail to realize that he or she should have consulted a spouse prior to purchasing a big-ticket item.

Whatever the case may be, there's no doubt that financial infidelity can erode trust within a marriage and, with an estimated 20 percent of people who "live with a spouse or partner" admitting to secretly spending $500 or more, financial secrets appear to be a problem for many married and cohabitating couples.

Source: The Washington Post, "The extramarital bank account: tales of financial infidelity," Jonnelle Marte, Feb. 13, 2015

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