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Money Matters—The Impact of Financial Infidelity on Marital Stability

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Love is priceless, but money goes a long way to keeping a marriage stable.  For relationships on rocky footing, financial betrayal can mean the difference between divorce and giving it another try.

Everyone knows infidelity often puts couples on the fast-track to divorce.  But what is financial infidelity?

As the name implies, financial infidelity occurs when a partner in a relationship is not forthcoming about how marital or other funds are being spent. One 2018 study (from a credit card company) offered the following findings after an online survey given to 1,000 adults:

  • About 19 percent of survey participants were currently hiding an account from their partner, like a credit card, a savings, or checking account.
  • Surprisingly, 20 percent of respondents reported they felt financial infidelity was worse than physical infidelity.
  • But given that, only two percent stated they would break up with their partner if secret debt of $5,000 or more were suddenly discovered. The survey found households with lower incomes would take the news harder and could be more likely to break up as a result.
  • As to demographics, adults who are 18 to 37 years old (Millennials) are more likely to be covering up a secret account. The survey notes tech savvy Millennials can easily open and maintain paperless accounts.
  • There is also a geographic divide, with respondents from the South and the West saying they are more likely to cover up debt.

Research suggests concern or conflict over money is a hot button issue for most couples.  The stress of a tight budget amplifies small disagreements, leads to higher resentment over “the little things,” and leaves partners less satisfied and sometimes looking for any way out.  In a household with money troubles, the discovery of secret debt can be the last straw.

It is no secret that financial straits make anyone unhappy, even those with relatively healthy bank accounts. Because money is associated with status, satisfaction, and safety, losing control of the purse strings to a spouse with a secret spending habit can be disastrous to marital harmony.

Whether a relationship goes down due to financial infidelity depends on how willing and able partners are to adapt, accept, and move forward.  Even without a dark money secret, couples who disagree about their finances may argue more often, more viciously, and be less willing to let bygones be bygones.

If you learn about a financial secret—or you are keeping one—consider getting counseling to help your partnership or marriage move forward.  If the disclosure was a deal breaker, speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Baltimore about your options before making a decision that may, or may not, be the move you really want to make.

High quality legal representation in Baltimore County

Experienced legal advice is important when you are making decisions about the future of your family. Call 410-602-9522 or contact the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher when you have questions about separation, divorce, or other family law matters in Maryland.