Is Trust Possible After Financial Infidelity?
If you or someone you know has experienced financial infidelity in their marriage or serious relationship, it does not mean the relationship has to end. However, it can take just as much time and effort to heal and regain trust as it would if it were sexual infidelity. In order to heal your marriage or relationship, take the situation seriously and begin the healing process by following these five steps.
- Be Fully Transparent – Going forward, both parties must agree to be completely transparent in regard to their finances. Each person can see all bank statements, have online access, and is free to ask any questions about income or expenses in any account. Quarterly credit checks may be appropriate as well. If you are the perpetrator, be patient through this step, and avoid getting defensive when questioned. You must earn back the trust you have broken. If you are the victim, be understanding and give your partner a chance to prove their actions are pure and honorable.
- Weekly Meetings - Agree on a time each week to meet and get on the same page about your finances. Review all financial account statements and discuss them together. You can use this meeting to talk about financial goals and establish a working budget. If debt is an issue, consider hiring a budget coach or reading a book on money management for couples.
- Division of Duties - Split the financial duties instead of one person handling everything. One of you can handle the bill paying, and the other can handle budget tracking so you are both involved in the process. Or if one person handles the investing and saving, the other can handle spending and bill paying. After a few months, switch roles so you are both competent and confident in both. This is not only a good plan to help build trust, but it is good planning just in case one of you becomes incapacitated. You will have confidence that the other person can step right in and take over if necessary.
- Consider Counseling - One of the most important things you can do is get at least short-term counseling from a qualified therapist. Lack of trust is dangerous in a marriage, and the reasons for the behavior must be unpacked or it is very possible it will happen again. Be ready to dig deep with your partner and get to the bottom of it. Lean into your partner and don’t give in the temptation to isolate. Isolation is dangerous!
- Set appropriate boundaries – Depending on the offense, these can vary. If gambling, regular credit checks for new accounts or credit cards are a must. As the perpetrator, you may need to watch the places you go, the time of day you are on the computer, and/or who you spend your time with. Your therapist can be key in helping you establish good boundaries as a couple. Boundaries lead to total transparency.
Finding out you’ve been lied to or feeling the need to do so in your relationship is not a situation you want to be in. Take the initiative today to begin to heal the damage and move forward in a healthier way. You both will be better off, emotionally and financially. If you need help with any of these steps, reach out to us. The Financial Knot has a great network of professionals that can assist with these steps.