By Nancy A Hetrick, MAFF®, CDFA™
I hope you’ve been following the series of blogs on Financial Infidelity. If you or someone you know has experienced this in their marriage or intimate relationship, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of it. Know, however, that it can take just as much time and effort to heal and regain trust as it would if it were sexual infidelity. So don’t take it lightly if you hope to save your marriage. Start with these 4 steps to begin the healing process.
- Full Transparency – As soon as the truth comes out, there MUST be a 100% agreement by both parties for absolute financial transparency. Each person sees all statements, has online access, and is free to ask any and all questions about any income or expenses in any account. If you are the perpetrator, do NOT get defensive at the questions. You broke the trust and now must earn it back. Prove you are open and willing. If you are the victim, give your partner a chance to prove that their intentions are honorable. A little understanding will go a long way.
- Weekly Review Meetings – Agree on a time each week for the two of you to print all financial account statements and review them together. Talk about your financial goals and establish a working budget. Use this opportunity to get on the same page around your finances. If debt is an issue, you might even consider taking a money management course together or buying a book on money management for couples.
- Division of Duties – Instead of one person handling all of the bill-paying and budget tracking, split them up so both of you are involved in the process. One person handle the spending and bill paying and the other handle the investing and saving. After a few months, swap so you both are capable and competent at both roles. This is not only valuable to build trust but also is great planning in the event that either one of you becomes incapacitated. The other person can step right in and not lose a beat.
- Counseling – Probably the most important of the four is to get at least short-term counseling from a qualified couples therapist. Mistrust has no place in a marriage and reasons for the behavior MUST be delved into or I can almost guarantee you it will only happen again. Be ready to dig deep and get to the bottom of it.
Finding out you’ve been lied to or have felt the need to do so in your relationship is not a place you want to stay. Take the initiative today to begin to heal the damage and move forward in a more positive, healthy way. You’ll both be better off for it – both emotionally and financially.