Infidelity can ruin a relationship (yep, this is going to be a heavy one). There’s more than one way to be unfaithful to a significant other. There’s physical infidelity. There’s emotional infidelity. However, one that may not immediately come to mind for most people is financial infidelity. If you think it’s not as serious as the other two, you’d be wrong. Studies have shown that money issues are reported as the leading cause of divorce in America.

Financial Infidelity

Marriage is not simply a romantic or religious endeavor; it’s actually quite akin to a business merger. It’s a kind of 1+1=1 situation. So, if one person starts lying about how money is being spent or using money for things behind the others back, it is a major breach of trust. Secret debt, extravagant spending, lying about where money is going, all of these things constitute financial infidelity.

Like most other things, there are levels to financial infidelity. It can be a slippery slope once you get going. However, it’s natural for people to have some things just for themselves. Vows and a contract don’t actually remove our individuality.

Best Case

If you and your partner are more or less transparent about financial issues, you’re in pretty good shape. That remains the case even if your finances aren’t that good. In this situation, you both know what’s going on and can work together towards fixing any problems.

It’s the lying and the secret keeping that does the real damage. One of the partners is often blindsided once the problem becomes too large for the other to secretly manage.

Troubled Waters

This is when the secret keeping starts. One person might borrow from the other without telling them or use their credit card behind their back. Under normal circumstances, this would be a crime. But, because the two are married, legally speaking, they can’t steal from each other. In fact, the only recourse a person who is getting robbed blind by their spouse has is divorce. Starting to see why it happens so much?

What makes these still relatively minor lies about finances so insane is that the truth almost always comes out. Credit card statements and account balances are very much a thing. It’s better to be honest.

Danger Zone

This is when the problem reaches its apex. One or both of you have secret accounts and secret debts. You’re lending your brother thousands of dollars for this. Your spouse is lending their cousin thousands of dollars for that.

At this point, you aren’t just keeping a few things from your spouse. You may as well be living a whole separate life. This is probably a bigger issue than just money. Make no mistake though, money is only going to greatly exacerbate the problem.

Now is the time for some serious reflection on the status of your relationship. You may even feel like you’re only using “your” money. That’s just not how it works in a marriage, legally. Your financial decisions affect the both of you and it’s super unfair to keep something so important from a spouse.

Most people would argue that physical infidelity is much worse than being financially unfaithful. But ask yourself, which one has the longer lasting real-world repercussions?

Just something to think about.