Lying, cheating and sneaking around can destroy a marriage, but it happens all the time – with money. We see it over and over in all different forms, from hidden stashes of cash and secret credit cards to undisclosed debt. In fact, it’s such a common occurrence that we decided we needed a name for it. We sat in a meeting room trying to come up with a term that encompassed lying and cheating about money when Bethany had a stroke of genius – Financial Infidelity. It was so perfect that I tried to trademark it! (alas, Dr. Phil beat me to the punch and ran a show on the subject!) Trademarked or not, it’s something that’s happening in a lot of marriages, maybe even yours. If you find yourself committing Financial Infidelity, we can help you confess and move forward. Here are 4 steps to help you come clean to your spouse.
1. Do Some Soul Searching
Confessing a money misdeed to your spouse is never easy. You don’t want to hurt the person you love. Before you approach the subject with them, do some soul searching. Figure out why you’re committing Financial Infidelity in the first place. Is it coming from fear or anger? Is it based in resentment? Is it a way to fight back against a feeling that you’ve been money shamed by your spouse? Sit down and determine the root cause of your Financial Infidelity before you do anything else.
2. Remind Yourself That You Are Confessing To A Person You Trust
Once you’ve figured out why you’re being dishonest with your spouse about money, it’s time to gather your courage for the tough discussion. It’s important to remember that while confessing won’t be easy, this is a person that loves you. You have to rely on the foundation of trust you’ve built together. Remind yourself that you and your spouse are committed to each other for better and for worse, and you can count on them to understand and work through this with you.
3. Be Prepared For Your Spouse To Be Angry
Even though your spouse loves you, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to get mad! You’re telling them that you’ve been dishonest – they’re not going to be thrilled about it. Be prepared for some anger. Give them the chance to have those feelings and work through them. Don’t jump into instant defense mode or start making excuses. Own your mistakes and recognize your spouse’s feelings. Let them get through their anger and disappointment and get to a place where you can work together on a solution.
4. Don’t Delay!
Having a shameful secret is awful and exhausting. It’s such a relief to just come clean and have everything out in the open. The sooner you talk to your spouse, the sooner the two of you can move past this bump in the road. Do it today! But maybe not right this minute.
Here are some tips to start the conversation.
- Instead of springing it on your spouse, give them a little warning. It can be something simple like, “Hey, honey, I’ve got something important I want to talk to you about. When would be a good time?” Maybe they’ll be ready to talk right now, but it gives them the option to choose a time when they’re not tired, distracted, or busy.
- Once your spouse is ready to talk, we recommended taking a walk together. For some reason, it just seems easier to tackle tough subjects when you’re actively doing something. It’s less intense than sitting down staring at each other, and it’s easier to be open and honest.
- When you’ve confessed your Financial Infidelity, offer some solutions for how to solve the problem and move forward. Please don’t put that on your spouse. Come prepared with some suggestions for how you can fix this together.
We’re not saying that this process will be easy, but these steps will make it easier. Trust me – we know from experience! Bethany and I have dealt with Financial Infidelity ourselves, and we’ve worked through it and made our marriage even stronger. If you are keeping money secrets from your spouse, make a decision RIGHT NOW that you are going to start taking these 4 steps TODAY.