Financial or physical — it’s still cheating and it hurts
The act of infidelity can take on many forms in a marriage or a relationship, whether it's physical, emotional, or financial.
A new CreditCards.com report found that nearly 32% of U.S. adults who are married or living with someone, have committed some form of financial infidelity against their partner.
Why is financial infidelity bad for a marriage or relationship?
Somerset County marriage and family counselor, Dr. Marty Tashman said any kind of infidelity is bad in a relationship, no matter what kind.
The idea of doing something behind somebody's back is a terrible dynamic because the thing that holds couples together is the ability to trust each other, he said.
"So when you start to lose trust, you start to lose love. When you start to lose trust and love the relationship starts to disintegrate," Tashman said.
Why does financial infidelity happen?
Financial infidelity happens when people make, often time, sizable purchases without telling their partner. Tashman said this could be a sign that they can't communicate with their partner.
Another reason is one person may be angry with their partner so they just go on a secret shopping spree. A third reason could be a buying addiction which makes them feel guilty but they stay silent on the matter.
The CreditCards.com report found that 9% of those surveyed have a secret debt or a secret credit card and 8% have a secret checking or savings account.
Younger people are more prone to financial cheating in a relationship
Financial infidelity is most common among younger adults (61% of Gen Zers) versus older adults (19% of baby boomers).
Tashman believes older folks are more afraid they will never have enough money whether it's for assisted living or retirement. Many baby boomers also grew up in lean times when money was tight, and therefore, more appreciated.
He said younger folks tend to think there will always be a tomorrow. So, they may take money for right now. But having said that, they may double down and catch up with it later on. Older people are not as confident as younger ones about the future, he added.
Which is worse, physical or financial infidelity?
Among those who admit to ever hiding money secrets from their partner, 24% say financial cheating is worse than physical cheating, according to the report.
Tashman said he doesn't know which is worse actually because "hurt is hurt and pain is pain," as he puts it.
He said if it's happening to you and someone is cheating on you or if it's happening to you and you realize you don't have the money you had, pain is pain. "I'm not sure we can measure it," Tashman said.
How to come clean to a spouse about financial infidelity
The best way to deal with "liar's remorse" is to come clean with your partner, he said.
Do not tell a little bit at a time. Tell the whole story at once and upfront. Pick a time when the couple won't be interrupted and pick a time when things are calm. He said it's always difficult to pick a time to talk to a spouse about a problem.
Don't try and justify the actions. Get in touch with genuine remorse and take responsibility for your actions. Together, as a couple, figure out a way to prevent financial infidelity from happening again.
He said the central feature of any relationship is trust. The whole purpose of coming together and quality of life is determined by the ability to have a meaningful person to connect with daily.
Tashman added if one urges one to cheat, see it as a yellow flag that will quickly turn into a red flag. It will be a large, emotional expense if one decides to do unfaithful things, whether it's with another person or with finances.
"Think once. Think twice and the third time, talk to someone who can help you figure it out because it's a communications problem where you can't communicate with your partner about things that are most important for your whole life," Tashman said.
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