How to find out if your partner is financially cheating on you

Nicole Lapin talks financial cheating and how to find out if your partner is financially cheating on you.. and what to do about it!

Red Flags of Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity is one of the most dangerous things that can happen in a marriage. When one spouse is making significant financial moves without the knowledge of the other, it endangers the financial future of both people and exhibits a disregard for the most fundamental parts of a healthy marriage: trust and communication.

The tricky aspect of financial infidelity is that it can be very hard to detect at times. You might have a sense that something is amiss with your finances, but actually finding out what’s wrong can be a real challenge.

1.    You Find Statements for a Credit Card You Don’t Know About

This means, of course, that your spouse has a credit card – presumably with a balance – that he or she chose not to tell you about. The spending on that card was disguised from you, as were the interest fees.

Why is that a problem? Someone is going to have to pay off that card. The money for that payoff is going to have to come straight out of the family budget in some way, shape, or form. It’s going to take away from the other goals in your life. It’s also an indication of indirect dishonesty (at the very least), as your partner isn’t telling you about significant expenditures.

2.    You’ve Been Removed from a Joint Credit Card

If you are an authorized user on a credit card with your spouse and then suddenly find yourself removed from that card for some unclear reason, that’s a sign that the card is in the process of being used for something you may not like – probably unnecessary spending.

There can be situations where it makes sense to do this. Perhaps you’re in a situation where you’re trying to improve credit scores or a wallet has been stolen. In those situations, the choice to be removed from a joint credit card is a mutual one with a good reason behind it.

3.    Your Partner Is Paranoid About Getting the Mail

If your partner is obsessive about getting the mail and “filters” it before letting anyone else see it, then something is amiss. If your partner suddenly insists on getting a post office box but can’t offer any real reasons for doing so, then something is amiss.

Mail should be something that is fully accessible to both partners with only rare situations (such as a gift or something similar) preventing that openness. If your spouse is showing severe discomfort with your access to financial statements, then you have a clear sign of a problem.

You should keep financial statements in one place with open access for both of  you Each of you should get the mail a few times a week.

4.    Your Partner Gets Very Emotional When Money Topics Arise

Does your partner react with extreme emotion – tears, unnecessary anger, cold avoidance – whenever you bring up the idea of talking about your finances? This is a definite sign that something is amiss – and financial infidelity is one very strong possibility.

Sure, some people are less enthusiastic than others when it comes to talking about financial issues, but a strongly emotional response – especially a negative one – points a strong finger to a deeper issue. Regardless of what the cause, a strong emotional response to financial discussion is something that needs to be understood by both partners.

If your partner is willing to talk about it but struggles with emotional control, be patient.  

5.    Your Partner Suddenly Becomes Overly Financially Generous with You – And You Can’t Figure Out How

Sometimes, people will feel guilty about their financial infidelity (or other forms of dishonesty) and will try to “make up” for it by being overly generous. Think about the traditional image of bringing flowers home when a mistake is made.

If your partner is suddenly buying you a lot of things out of the blue, if nothing else it means that they’re spending money in unusual ways, which is worth considering. It may also be a sign that there’s something else at work.

What Can You Do?

Don’t Accuse

The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what the problem is.  Don’t accuse. Instead, gather facts and try to understand how those facts are preventing progress toward the goal you thought you were both working toward. It’s a lot harder to get mad at that type of perspective.

Be Completely Financially Open

If you want financial openness from your partner, you need to bring openness to the table. Every single statement with your name on it should be open to your partner and every line item should be open to question. If you expect to be able to do this to your partner, you must be completely open to these kinds of probing questions from your partner.

Propose a Full Financial Checkup for Both of You

Suggest meeting with your partner to go over your finances and talk about where you want to be going in the future. Focus on life goals at first because, as you dig into life goals, the financial issues will inevitably come up.

Pick a time where you have a healthy portion of the day to talk about these things. You should assume that there will be some breaks and probably something healthy for your relationship afterwards, like a date.

Work on Goals You’re Both Passionate About

Sit down separately and make a list of ten goals that are truly important to you. Don’t worry about your partner.  What things do you want out of life in the next five years or or the rest of your life? Make a list of ten things. When you each have a list, get together and see which ones overlap. Most couples will have some that overlap well and some that don’t overlap at all. Agree to focus together on the items that overlap above the others.

Discuss Revised Spending Expectations

When you start making changes to your goals, you’re going to directly need to make changes to your spending. Very few big life goals exist without some sort of financial consequence. Don’t expect it to go perfectly. Just talk together about things you can both do to make that goal a reality. If you’re asking your partner to cut back on spending on a hobby that they’re passionate about, look for ways where you can give something important to the goal, too. If it is a shared goal and you’re expecting your partner to stretch to reach it, you need to stretch to reach it, too.

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