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Marriage and money can cause significant stress, especially in uncertain times like these. Even for the wealthiest couples in America, money can be a spot of contention. And when couples have strongly mismatched financial priorities, that can lead to problems.

Sometimes, a couple’s opposing views on money can lead to financial infidelity. In a recent survey, 2 in 5 Americans admitted to keeping money secrets from their partner, which some believe is worse than having an affair.

Why does financial infidelity occur?

In many cases, it boils down to communication. Whether one spouse is trying to avoid conflict or hide a spending addiction, that can put a tremendous strain on any relationship. In some cases, it can also lead to divorce.

How do I know if my spouse is committing financial infidelity?

The warning signs aren’t always easy to spot. However, if you find your spouse displaying any of the following behaviors, these may constitute red flags:

  • They keep their purchases a secret: Even in the age of online shopping, some people can keep their irresponsible spending habits a secret. And for couples who have a lot of money, those irresponsible purchases can be so big that they may be much harder to return. Either way, if you find luxury items or other purchases outside your marital budget, you may want to talk with your partner.
  • They get emotional when discussing financial matters: Conflict is a normal part of any marriage. But if your spouse becomes visibly defensive or upset about discussing the household budget, retirement accounts or other investment ventures, they may be hiding something.
  • They lock you out of shared accounts: With today’s technology, people can access their financial information with the click of a button. If your partner starts to use that technology to lock you out of joint financial accounts, this can look enigmatic. In other cases, financially disloyal spouses may even change passwords on these accounts or lock their phone screens when you ask what they’re looking at.
  • You see extra purchases on your joint statement: In a healthy marriage, spouses typically communicate with each other before making a big purchase. But if you see a large number of luxury items on your joint bank statement, this can be an indicator of financial dishonesty.

Is ending my marriage the right option for me?

Sometimes, couples can sit down, discuss their money issues, and move forward with their relationship. In other cases, financial infidelity could be the sign of a marriage that’s falling apart at the seams. If that’s the case, you may benefit from sound legal counsel to navigate the ups and downs of the divorce process.