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Another marriage stressor: lying about money

This is another story about financial woes and their effect on a marriage. We've said often (our last post notwithstanding) that money troubles are among the top reasons couples divorce. According to a recent survey, though, it's not just that there's not enough money or that the couple disagrees on financial priorities. No, some marriages fall victim to "financial infidelity."

Harris Interactive, commissioned by Forbes.com, polled 2,019 adults across the country. The results showed that 3 in 10 Americans commit financial infidelity by lying to their partner about money. For adults who have combined finances, 31 percent were untruthful about their situation. This infidelity took the form of hiding cash or a bank account, or being dishonest about debt loads or even earnings. And, contrary to popular opinion, women were just as big liars as men.

Not all of them get away with it. About a third of respondents said they'd been lied to.

The problem, of course, is that dishonesty of any kind can damage the relationship. Dishonesty about financial matters can inflict significant damage. Respondents said the financial infidelity led to an argument (67 percent), lessened trust in the partner or the relationship (42 percent), led to separation (11 percent) and led to divorce (16 percent).

Anyone who remembers the I Love Lucy episodes that had Lucy hiding a new hat from Ricky won't be surprised to hear that 54 percent of the respondents said they'd hidden a minor purchase. Many fewer (16 percent) admitted to hiding a major purchase. While 30 percent hid a bill, just 15 percent hid a bank account.

According to Forbes, this kind of behavior could be the "new normal." They offered no explanation.

Source: Reuters, "Three in 10 Americans commit financial infidelity?" 01/03/11

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