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Money And Marriage
One thing I've been thinking about a lot more lately is just how much of a role money can play in a marriage, and how you approach it can determine the success or failure of the relationship. In fact, statistics have shown that the majority of marriages that end in divorce cite “money problems” as the number one reason for divorce.
My wife and I have been getting our financial house in order these past few weeks because we started attending Dave Ramsey's “Financial Peace University” class. As part of that class you are encouraged to communicate more often with your spouse about your financial situation through family budget committee meetings, and through talking about the household budget. Often talking about your finances opens up the communication in other areas as well, leading to some very positive steps in your marriage.
I have four credit cards my husband doesn't know about. He just ordered both our credit reports – I am so afraid he will find out
I'm beginning to think that this type of deception is a lot more common than I thought.
I talked with an acquaintance recently and she told me about how she has a separate checking account that a portion of her paycheck goes into – and her husband knows nothing about it. She uses it so she can spend the money on whatever she wants without her husband knowing. She even went as far as to have her company cut her two separate checks. One “secret” check, and the other “actual” take home check. Her husband thinks she makes a lot less than she really does. (UPDATE: This couple has now divorced. I'm not surprised with the level of deception going on)
I've read threads elsewhere as well where people are talking about how to keep money safe and secret from a spouse – so that they won't find out. They do this to spend on things they want, just to be safe in case of a divorce or because they don't trust their partner's judgement when it comes to money.
I think when people in a relationship feel they have to keep secrets like this there is a fundamental lack of trust that is coming into play. The marriage probably has deeper issues than just money issues, there are probably issues with communication, trust, respect as well as a myriad of other things we can only begin to list. Counseling is probably needed for most of these couples.
The only time in recent memory that I can think of withholding financial information from my wife was when I bought an Xbox last year. I sold some things on eBay in order to raise the money to buy the video game system. I sold our DVD recorder, my old Dreamcast console as well as some other small items. I raised enough money from selling those things to pay for that new Xbox as well as have some money left over. The problem was that I hadn't communicated it well enough to my wife that I intended to do this. I kind of mentioned selling some stuff on eBay, but forgot to mention (so she tells me) that I was doing this to buy an Xbox. I didn't tell her what I was selling, and I didn't OK the console purchase before going through with it. I just did it.
What did I learn from the situation? When you aren't completely open with your spouse, and always keep an open line of communication with them there will be problems. Even though I thought I had mentioned to her what I was doing, I still hadn't communicated my complete intent to her, and because of that she lost a little trust in me with our finances. I will now have to rebuild some of that trust that she's lost.
What's The Moral Of The Story?
The temptation to be secretive with your expenses is going to be there. The lures of buying things you want, choosing not to trust your partner with finances or just having your “own money” are very enticing. More and more people are giving in and creating new secrets every day, and many people actually think there is nothing at all wrong with it. I have to disagree.
I believe that having an open and honest dialogue with your spouse is necessary at all times if you want to have a strong marriage. When you aren't, most of the time your spouse is going to find out, and it won't be pretty. If they don't find out you'll have this big secret weighing down on you. That's not something that I would want to live with.
King David speaks of deception in Psalms:
I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart… No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. Psalm 101 1-2, 7
If we want to try and “be careful to lead a blameless life” as David speaks of, we need to be careful not to practice deceit or lie to our spouses. Nothing good can come of keeping secrets. David himself found out the price of deceit when he had an affair with a married woman and deceitfully sent her husband into battle to die. Deceit, lies and secrets never end well.
Have you ever kept a secret from a loved one? What was the result if they found out? Have you ever had someone else keep a secret from you? Do you disagree that keeping secrets about money is bad thing? Leave a comment!