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Financial Infidelity in Marriage: How to Move Forward Together

Updated: Jul 8

Marriage is a partnership built on trust, love, and mutual respect. Financial deception and betrayal can erode or destroy that trust and create emotional distress and financial strain.

According to a recent Forbes Advisor Survey,

  • 38% have lied to a partner about finances

  • 54% say lying about finances is equivalent to other kinds of lying or infidelity

  • 54% of Americans believe having a partner who’s in debt is a major reason to consider divorce

According to a NEFE survey,

“16% of respondents surveyed reported that financial infidelity ultimately led to divorce.”

What is financial infidelity? 

Financial infidelity occurs when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. Examples include hiding purchases, secret bank accounts, or undisclosed debts. 

Financial Infidelity in Marriage

Why couples often commit financial infidelity

The reasons couples commit financial infidelity vary. Financial infidelity can occur because spouses do not agree on spending decisions, which often leads to unneeded arguments. According to the NEFE survey, other reasons couples commit financial infidelity include:

  • Some partners believe that some aspects of their financial lives should remain private.

  • Feelings of guilt or shame around a financial decision.

  • Lack of regular communication about money.

Systems to prevent financial infidelity 

Michael Thomas, Ph.D., AFC®, CFT-I™, is a lecturer at the University of Georgia. Here’s a short clip of him suggesting how to address financial infidelity from our Marriage Toolkit.

Deciding how to move forward depends on many factors, and certainly, no one way is best for every couple. Most couples can address the leading factors that contribute to financial infidelity by communicating regularly about their finances on weekly money dates – dedicated times in a stress-free and judgment-free environment to discuss the family finances. 

Couples who are financial opposites might consider the value of financial translucency by using the Yours, Mine, and Ours approach, which we elaborated on in our post How to Split Your Finances: Psychological Money Laundering

Yours, Mine, and Ours


Related: We use Tiller to keep our financial world automated and in one place. It is the perfect tool to make Money Dates go smoothly. Click here to learn more.


Consider Financial Therapy

Financial therapy is an emerging field that combines financial planning with therapeutic principles to help individuals and couples address emotional, behavioral, and relational issues related to money. It recognizes that financial well-being is not just about numbers and budgets but also about the psychological and emotional aspects of managing money.

Financial therapists work to uncover and address the underlying beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that influence financial decision-making.

Where to Find a Financial Therapist

Financial therapy practitioners come from a variety of home disciplines, approaches, and areas of focus. Access the Financial Therapy Association Directory to find the right fit for your marriage. 

Marriage Toolkit

Start, Strengthen, or Rebuild Your Marriage: Our Marriage Toolkit empowers couples with evidence based ideas from 40+ of the nation’s leading experts in managing money and the home as a team. 

Click here for a free preview. 


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