As we enter the new year, it’s important to take stock of our finances and what we expect our financial ad relational future to look like this year. Financial fidelity is something anyone at any income level at any stage in a relationship can benefit from. It stems from being honest with your partner about your finances. Sounds simple enough, right? Basic relationship 101? It may SEEM simple, but if that were truly the case, finances wouldn’t be one of the leading causes of divorce. The truth is, many couples – no matter how long or short of a time they’ve been together – struggle when it comes to being honest about their money.
What Is Financial Infidelity?
What I call “financial infidelity” (and which I talk about extensively in the book Financial Infidelity) can take on many different forms. It can be as simple and mundane as keeping $20 for yourself when you go to deposit a check or it can be as complicated and public as keeping a woman in every city. The basic idea underlying financial infidelity is that it’s something you’re trying to keep from your significant other. To some, a $20 withdrawal may not be a big deal but if that’s beyond what you’ve discussed in your personal relationship as being over the limit then it’s a form of financial infidelity.
Staying financially faithful can look different at different phases of a relationship. If you haven’t been together for that long, for example, your conversation would be different than a couple who’s been together for years. You might start by doing things like:
- Ask questions about how money has been used in their family: worries, abandonment, shame, blame around money.
- Asking questions like this will eliminate any problems or irreconcilable differences, and is a way to see who is flexible and who is not, in reference to money and power, and struggles over money.
- Do a budget for yourself (if you don’t already have one) to help answer some of these questions for yourself.
- As you move forward in your relationship, have money talks weekly to minimize financial infidelity.
Reward Yourself For Fidelity
A couple who’s been together longer would go more in-depth and be up front about how you and your partner are dealing with money without shame and blame or judgement. Do a budget and if you are a spender you will see how different it is to pay your bills. Give yourself a reward – not money – if you follow this. Spend time at home re-prioritizing, which costs nothing. And again, have money talks weekly to minimize financial infidelity.
I encourage you to find a system that works for you and talk to your partner about money and financial expectations. Here’s to an open, honest and successful 2010!