How to Keep the Money Mistress From Destroying Your Relationship

Something as seemingly ‘harmless” as hiding a purchase you made from you partner is really not harmless at all. In fact, it’s a form of financial infidelity, and can lead to greater financial infidelities.

Bigger-scale problems of this nature often come during significant relationship problems that you may be having with your significant other. For example, if you’re aware of financial or sexual infidelities going on in your relationship, you’re likely to fall into some financial infidelities of your own, or succumb to the “money mistress.”

Examples of Financial Infidelity

A few examples of financial infidelity are:

*when one partner keeps money from a work bonus for themselves without telling the other person

*over-charging at drugstores or for groceries and keeping the cash

*when one person uses money or spending as a way of “keeping score”

Why People Succumb to Financial Infidelity

There are several ways to, and many reasons why, people fall into this type of behavior. The most basic and common can be when you’re already experiencing things like this at the hands of your partner.

It can be tempting to retaliate in similar ways. You may even be in a relationship where you’re aware of a sexual affair, and you’re using your bank account to “get back” at the other person.

One couple I worked with had this problem. The woman was aware of her husband’s affair (as he wasn’t really doing much work to hide it) so she would see the purchases he made for his mistress, would add up the cost of these purchases, and then buy something for herself that cost that amount. She used this behavior as a way of trying to make herself feel good, and as a method of getting back at her spouse.

Of course the person already engaging in financial or sexual infidelities isn’t in the right either, but by retaliating or spending behind your partner’s back, you’re also taking part in what I call a “PoP shot” – or a “Pissed off Purchase!”  You’re fueled by anger towards the other person’s infidelities, whether they’re sexual or financial, and you decide to take action by using the bank account for leverage.

There are other versions of this situation that aren’t as drastic. I’ve seen cases where one partner overspends, and the other feels entitled to spend a similar amount, or in a similar way creating another type of money mistress. One key solution to the problem of a money mistress is to learn to fight fair.  Don’t let money be your weapon.

Rules to Make Sure You Talk About Money

Here are a few rules I set forth in my book to help make sure you talk about money, and to break its control in your relationship:

*Ask permission. You want the other person to be engaged in the conversation, so make sure it’s a good time for them, too. You should make an “appointment” for a specific time to make sure that the issue will be handled.

*Put time limits on the “fight.” It’s OK to walk away and come back later as long as it’s mutual and done with respect. Everyone has different thresholds for what they can tolerate during an argument.

*Use “I” sentences. Don’t blame or criticize.

*Echo what you hear and validate your partner’s feelings. Truly listen to the other person and let them hear you repeat their thoughts and concerns back to them. This assures them that you ARE paying attention and not just continuing with your “agenda.”

*Detach from your emotions. Try not to let your responses be emotional, but rather focus on the facts and the truth.

After a fair and productive fight, remember things that each person need to work on, and commit to trying to change the behaviors that may have created “money mistresses” or “pissed off purchases” in the past.


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