Some secrets seem harmless. Maybe you bought a jacket that was a little expensive and lied to your partner about how much it cost. Maybe you have a savings account you haven’t told your partner about for whatever reason. Or maybe you haven’t been entirely honest with your partner about how much you truly earn every month.
You may think that as long as the secrets you keep don’t harm your partner, like being secretly in debt, there’s no problem in keeping a few financial secrets. They’re kind of white lies, after all.
The truth is, that’s not really the case.
Financial secrets, even ones that seem like no big deal, can actually cause serious harm to your relationship. Here is a list of different ways your financial secrets can negatively impact your relationship.
Arguments over finances tend to be longer and more intense than other kinds of arguments. They also tend to have worse consequences. Many times, couples end up separating or divorcing due to arguments over finances.
Financial secrets can easily lead to those types of arguments, and the more upset partners get, the more likely they are to separate. One particularly bad example of this would be someone that has just found out their partner filed for bankruptcy without telling them. A lot of people find that reason enough to leave their relationship, understandably so.
Lack of Trust
Keeping financial secrets is a great way of destroying the trust in your relationship—and once trust is gone, it’s really hard to get it back. A key component of relationships is trust. So how do you cope when it’s gone? Not to mention how it may leave your partner feeling betrayed, depending on the severity of the secret.
True, trust isn’t about telling your partner everything, but finances are complicated. There’s a certain level of joining your finances when you’re in a committed relationship, even if you keep separate accounts. If you’re married, then all your debts become your partner’s, and theirs become yours. You need a minimum of clarity and honesty to maintain trust.
Believe it or not, financial secrets can reduce intimacy. They create a block between you and your partner, which can translate into emotional distance. They can also negatively impact your ability to enjoy fun activities together, like taking a class together or maybe learning a new dance.
And if you’re actively hiding things, or outright lying about others, can you really be emotionally present in the relationship? It depends on the person, to be honest. Some might, but others might feel too guilty to be emotionally open with their partner afterward. Either way, financial secrets can have a serious impact on your intimacy with your partner.
Lack of Teamwork
Financial secrets also hurt one of the main components of being in a committed relationship: teamwork. They stop you from working together to achieve common goals, such as saving for a holiday or maybe for some home renovations. They make it harder to communicate properly, and, most importantly, they also undermine your commitment. Let’s be honest, what does it say about your commitment if you and your partner can’t sit down and have an honest conversation about your finances?
So, what do we do about it?
The good news is that this problem, like all problems, has a solution. You can solve it with an honest conversation, where the both of you sit down to talk about finances without holding anything back. You can also seek help from a couples’ counselor, as a sort of mediator, to make sure both parties are heard. It’s important to ensure that both of you can speak and be heard with full honesty and respect. Reach out to us for couples therapy when you are ready.