When I got married my husband said that he’d look after our joint finances. We were both then earning similar good salaries.
He said we should keep only enough money separately for what we needed for everyday expenses, and he’d save the rest for us. I got pregnant early in the marriage and was happy that he’d take over paying the household bills, etc.
He always said we were “doing well” and bought himself a new car, and expensive suits “needed” for work.
Seven years and two children later, I started asking questions, insisted on seeing his records, and hired my own lawyer and accountant.
I discovered that my husband had been privately diverting much of our joint earnings into investments in his name only. He also gave “our” money to his brother who invested in high-risk stocks, and lost most of it.
The two brothers also opened a company in their mother’s name from which to buy some condos, while I was denied the home repairs we needed.
I got divorced.
How can someone who swore his love for me be so sneaky, mean and unconcerned about how he was affecting me and our kids for the future?
Lost Savings, Lost Marriage
In a society of constant consumerism which has even flourished online during a pandemic, there are those who are “spenders” at heart and those who are confirmed “savers.” It’s a trait that’s often instilled in people by the time we’re age 10, and either similar to, or diverting from, what we saw growing up.
Later, when financial opposites marry, they can come to a natural compromise, or maintain a divided approach to money.
In your case, your husband committed what’s been called “financial infidelity.”
It’s a phrase used by Carrie Casden, a California-based “financial wellness coach” and means that messing around with a partner’s money is as searing a cause of distrust and permanent damage to the relationship as sexual infidelity.
During the pandemic, wellness coaches have provided support for people experiencing increasing mental health stresses related to money. So, I contacted Casden about her near-30 years as a business manager for private clients.
With past studies in psychology and accounting she has a busy practice, along with a popular website (carriecasden.com).
While she acknowledges that women and men are equally known to have “cheated” financially on their partner, she’s found that more female clients abdicate their overseeing of expense/savings, while more men take financial control (for good or bad intent).
In other words, all genders can be held responsible for dealing in cheating or absconding with jointly-owned funds.
Examples: Some women charge purchases of unaffordable expensive items and hide them for their mate to pay.
Men are apparently more prone to feeling shame over being unable to afford a family trip or some personally-desired item, so they accrue debt or don’t pay their taxes.
But there’s legitimate financial help available from coaches like Casden and also from online budgeting apps (e.g., mint.com). Users who protect their financial information with very secure passwords, have their spending tracked so there are no surprises.
Casden also believes in only having two credit cards, to helpfully keep spending under control.
For me, her strongest advice aimed at avoiding financial infidelity is this: Don’t make financial plans emotionally or on your own.
“You wouldn’t start a company without a plan and discussion. Your partner should be the most important person you talk to.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose girlfriend accuses him of cheating with an ex he considers a platonic friend (June 24):
Reader – “I was once the "new girlfriend" in a similar situation. It’s unfair to the new relationship to have the ghost of an ex hanging over it. Someone once famously said "there were three of us in this marriage." My advice would be to tell the new girlfriend to move on.”
Ellie - The quote was from Princess Diana who said that to journalist Martin Bashir in a 1995 BBC Panorama Series interview about her marriage to Prince Charles and his ongoing extramarital affair.
Reader #2 – “I’d just invite her. If your girlfriend overreacts, then you know this will happen with other females in your life (e.g., coworkers).
“Or, she could see the truth regarding the ex, and may even become friends with her. PLUS, the ex would see that you’re serious with your new relationship.”
Tip of the day:
Financial infidelity that cheats a partner of their own money, is a warning to couples to handle finances together and with discussion.