Is your spouse financially unfaithful?

Some marriages never recover from that breach of trust, says Brandt, the lawyer. That’s when they come to see her. “I get people at the end of the marriage when it’s too late,” says Brandt. “You have to start talking about these things before you even get into a marriage.”

from Financial Infidelity – The Leading Cause of Divorce by Frugal Trader, Million Dollar Journey Blog April 28th, 2008

Talk about throwing gasoline on a fire, yesterday’s Question of the Week with Dr. Jackie Black, which is part of Couples & Money Month on the PI Window on Business stoked what appears to be a growing, simmering beneath the surface issue in many marriages . . . financial infidelity.

According to an October 23rd, 2010 press release regarding an article by divorce lawyer Merlyn L. Meinerts, nearly 30 percent of all partners lie to their spouses about money.  On December 7th, 2010 CNN reported that at least 80% of spouses conceal or hide purchases from their significant other.

Regardless of whether it is an outright lie or one by omission, coupled with a recent American Express Poll which indicated that “91 percent of those surveyed avoided discussing money issues with their spouse or significant other,” would seem to provide a clear indication that the state of “matrimonial business” is generally speaking in big trouble.

Matrimonial business you might ask?  Well according to Dr. Jackie, finances in marriage should be treated in the same manner as finances in business and, as such when two people tie the knot it is tantamount to the merger of two independent companies where full and honest disclosure is a legal pre-requisite as part of the due diligence process.

Unfortunately, disclosure on any level is increasingly difficult to accomplish when only 9 percent of all “merging” couples actually talk about about finances.  This leaves the door wide open to a growing problem that can and often does sow the mistrust that ultimately leads to divorce.

What is even more interesting is that for many spouses, financial infidelity is a more serious transgression than sexual infidelity.  This is perhaps because with the former there is a greater frequency of deception that gradual yet assuredly erodes trust, and the loss of trust in a relationship – regardless of the reason, is devastating.

Some might be surprised by this revelation but if you think about it, physical indiscretions with the exception of an addiction problem, are themselves likely a symptom of a greater and far reaching marital problem.

Conversely, financially-based transgressions of deceit strike at the very heart of a relationship’s foundation in that it is in and of itself a reflection of differing values and moral standards in an every day life sense.  In fact, I would not be surprised that financial infidelity, if left unresolved, might lead to physical infidelity versus the other way around.

So what is the answer?

On Tuesday December 21st, 2010 at 8:00 PM EST, I will be welcoming Dr. Jackie Black to the PI Window on Business where for the first time we will open the on-air mike to couples who are experiencing challenges in their relationship due to financial infidelity.

During the 60 minute special, we will invite 3 couples to join Dr. Jackier on-line for 3 separate 15 minute couple-on-doctor session in which they can air (both figuratively and literally) their issues relative to financial indiscretions, with  Dr. Jackie offering her insights and expertise on how they can take that all important first step towards a resolution.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing the heartache of financial infidelity, please send me a note indicating interest for appearing on the show with Dr. Jackie at

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6 Responses to “Is your spouse financially unfaithful?”
  1. A dear friend of mine is going through a divorce principally due to this financing infidelity. Her spouse, spent large amounts of money…did not allow her access to her own money. Drove her into bankruptcy and eventual loss of her reputation and career. In the end she found out the home and auto insurance were in her name without her consent. He opened many charge accounts up in her name and maxed out all of the credit. He held title to the home and promised her that he would put her on the deed as she made the payments. This never came to fruition. Her vacation homes were sold by him…investments gone…no money in her bank accounts and had to face issues with regards to writing bad checks that were in her name. She cannot bankrupt a second time, presently. For 37 years she had stellar credit and lived well within her means. I would like the author to address “economic abuse” as well….How this can be used as a tool to destroy an otherwise contented, responsible individual. I do realize that women do this as well. It’s an equal opportunity disorder.

    • What an incredible and distressing story Fielding . . . and your right this is an issue that even though I do not have the statistics does not perhaps differentiate by gender.

      Would your friend be willing to call-in to talk with Dr. Jackie – all we would need is her first name and city, as well as of course her willingness to share the details. This is an important example that might help others avert the same tragic consequences that she has experienced.

      • fielding dent says:

        I will ask her. She is me dear friend and kin. Thank you for the interest. I am telling you that this happens to both men and women….across ethnic, age, nationality, race, sex, creeds, economic status, weight, height, girth, width, social status, employment conditions…all walks of life. I know this to be so…in my travels- internationally! This stat that you quoted from is far under inflated. This is the “entitlement” mindset gone wild! No end in sight at this juncture. This is a very timely discussion that really needs begs addressing. You are providing a great service here. Do not believe the lack of commentary at this site to dissuade this…most are totally unwilling to broach this subject. Too fearful! This should be mandatory (not mandated of course) for anyone pairing up financially. Even in business or other ventures. It’s difficult to research others in matters of the heart. This is a needed and useful topic! I cannot stress this enough!

      • Thank you, Fielding . . . once again and in much the same manner that I managed the interview with the Serial Suicide Killer victim’s mother, I will be equally sensitive should she decide to participate.

        As for the data, I would be inclined to agree re the numbers be far lower than the actual reality. It would however appear that one fact is clear, that men are as likely as women to be transgressors in the are of financial fidelity (or infidelity) as the case may be.

  2. fielding dent says:

    Yes, I am aware that her story is extreme. I suppose in general…It’s akin to “Crimes and Misdemeanors” As in most issues such as these…there are varying degrees. In my humble opinion. Her case would be akin to a crime…given the degree and full-scope of what had happened. In other cases it’s more as a misdemeanor…or civil infraction. The reason I sited this lame analogy…all though it’s obvious and given…it is important to clarify. I think if somethings given a label…things usually are broken up into categories and sub-categories. As back in the day….a person with a mental disorder was referred to as “neurotic”…then later as more research and information became available in the psychiatric field…there were categorizes of depression, bi-polar depression, post traumatic stress disorder. And so it goes. The reason for this as I am curious to how this will progress….the treatment may later become specifically tailored to fit the circumstance and or individual case.

  3. dylan O'Campbell says:

    A cad indeed! Me kin is in sorrows…so are a lot of others trying to recoup losses. Mostly men.

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