Financial Fidelity & Relationships

by | Jul 19, 2017

In a recent survey of 2000 millennials, almost two-thirds (60%) reported that a romantic partner used money to manipulate or gain power and control in a relationship and an equal amount (60%) said a romantic partner had either lied about money, or hid money or debt from them.

What is financial fidelity?

It is financial transparency, fluency, and equality in a relationship. Not that both partners are financially equally income- and debt-wise, but that both have open and equal access to and communication about finances.

On the other ends of the spectrum: financial infidelity and abuse.

The article defines financial infidelity as “when one partner in a couple with combined finances lies to the other about money…” This may include lying about significant debt, but can also include hiding or making unilateral purchases, undisclosed accounts, secrecy about income, and incurring debt in the partner’s name without his/her knowledge.

The article‘s definition of financial abuse as “tactics to limit a partner’s access to assets to family finances” is too narrow. Financial abuse hinges on control – controlling finances to control a partner. Examples may include:
– no access to accounts and financial information
– imposing an allowance on a dependent partner
– providing insufficient funds to meet the dependent partner’s or family’s needs
– tracking a partner’s purchases electronically or requiring an accounting for every purchase
– taking or redirecting a partner’s income and assets
– titling or retitling assets in one partner’s name alone

Many relationships fall into “responsibility habits”, with each partner responsible for certain tasks. This is efficient and how the tasks of daily life are done. However, this also invites a certain trust and, frankly, laziness when it comes to financial fidelity. Habit shifts all to easily into autopilot and a breakdown in financial communication – on both partners’ part. This then opens the door to financial infidelity’s unilateral decision-making and loss of transparency, which can become a slippery slope to lying and concealing. All while the other partner slips into financial ignorance.

Other relationships start out with a financial information imbalance and remain steadfastly so.

Financial abuse may exist from the start or evolve over time, and is usually one of many symptoms of an abusive relationship.

Finances can be a significant contributor to divorce. In a surprising number of divorces, one spouse is mostly or completely uninformed about the family’s finances – what assets and debts exist, the family’s spending, and how assets were used and/or disappeared during the marriage. Recreating a shared lifetime’s financial history can be difficult if not impossible. A lifetime of shared financial understanding and fidelity is a far better choice – throughout the marriage and should divorce occur.

Financial fidelity is the shared responsibility of both partners and an investment well worth making – for yourself, your family, and your future.