A white lie is still a LIE.
What's the harm to your relationship in a little "white lie" or hiding the truth? You're probably clear on the very real danger in not telling your partner that you got a text from your ex, but things get fuzzier when it comes to money. You know how damaging to trust, connection, and intimacy it is to lie about who you were with and what you did with that person.
But, what about the money you spent when you went shopping, the raise you received at work, or the "in case of emergencies" credit card you have that your partner hasn't got a clue about? Is it a bad idea to keep money secrets from your partner?
Maybe you don't even consider money lies (or omissions of information) a big deal. Or, maybe you think of these as your fallback plan. In the event that things don't work out in your relationship or marriage, that secret fallback plan means you won't be left scrambling for funds to live the way you want to live ... or even to just get by.
Maybe you've watched friends, relatives, or possibly your own parents when you were growing up, suffer after a breakup or divorce because they weren't financially prepared for it. Either consciously or subconsciously, you made the decision to always have a fallback plan to avoid what you witnessed in others' lives.
And so, you've become a relationship disaster prepper. You put money aside in a secret bank account. You stashed a personal credit card in the back of your underwear drawer that your partner knows nothing about.
You're not alone. A recent study uncovered that around 7.2 million Americans hide money from their partner.
Sometimes, lies were told to hide purchases (men were actually found to do this more than women) and sometimes bank accounts and credit cards were concealed.
Here are some common reasons why people hide financial activity from their spouse or partner:
- It's considered a matter of personal privacy and accompany an agreement to keep money separate.
- It results when the relationship is abusive and one person is lining up the means to leave.
- It springs from a desire to avoid shame, blame, and conflict around spending habits.
- It's used to cover up behaviors that would jeopardize the relationship (i.e. infidelity, gambling, excessive drug or alcohol use)
- It provides a fallback plan or "safety net" in case the relationship doesn't work out.
The danger of telling money lies is that it seriously erodes trust.
When your partner finds out that you hid a purchase or lied about opening a private credit card account, they start to wonder what motivated you to do this — and what else you're hiding.
Suspicions about what you're doing and how committed you are to the relationship build and this breeds distance and disconnection. If you're a relationship disaster prepper, the very act of telling money lies can send you racing toward the very disaster you don't want!
Follow these trust and money rules to prepare for a happy and healthy relationship instead:
1. Question your motivation.
Recognize a money lie when you tell one (or are tempted to). This is your cue to go within yourself and find out what's motivating you to hide the truth. Do this with curiosity and leave out self-criticisms, blame, or justification. Really get down to the reason/s why you believe lying about this is the smart thing to do.
2. Think about how this lie could feel to the person you love.
There may be a valid reason for the omission — just be clear with yourself about the risks. Do the benefits outweigh the cost that this will have to relationship trust and intimacy if your lie is found out? Realize that it's likely that at some point, the truth will come out.
Try this simple exercise: Imagine how you would feel if your partner told you the very same money lie you're about to tell. Again, set aside blame and justification and just think about how betrayed and suspicious you might be to discover the truth if roles were reversed.
3) Be honest with yourself (AND your partner).
Be smart and be honest. If you are in an abusive relationship and hiding money, bank accounts, or even expenditures is truly for your safety, then do what you need to do. We encourage you to get out of an abusive relationship as soon as you can — and this might involve reaching out to friends, family, or community organizations for help.
But if you're not being abused and you want to grow a trust-filled and HAPPY relationship, it's best to find the courage to be honest about everything — including finances. The more present-focused you can be and the more you turn off the stories in your head that your partner will react in a particular way, the better.
4) Set yourself up for the future you DO want.
Let your vision of the relationship you want be your guide. When worries and fears that you'll be left penniless and alone compel you to hide or lie about money, bring yourself back to right now. Think about where you truly are and where you want to be in the future, then act in ways that support THAT vision (and not the one you don't want).
Nurture a passion-full and trusting relationship with your partner in each and every moment. We offer tips for creating a Passionate Spark~Lasting Love in our free ebook.