It happens in many relationships. One partner makes a spending mistake or another financial mistake (or two… or more…) and chooses to hide the evidence for that mistake from the other partner.
Most of the time, that mistake just fades away over time. Sometimes, though, it all blows up. The spouse discovers not only the mistake but the coverup and the trust is damaged.
Where do you go from here?
From my own experience, there are four key things that need to happen when you are trying to re-establish trust in a relationship.
First, you need to figure out why. Some internal need pushed you to secretly spend money and then regret that choice (without the regret, you wouldn’t have hidden the spending).
Why? Why did you make that choice? It might not be easy to figure it out, but you need to figure it out. There’s something in your life that’s missing if you’re choosing to make poor financial decisions and then hide those decisions from everyone else in your life.
Without understanding why you’ve made that mistake, you’re dooming yourself to repeating it. Without that understanding, the rest of these steps aren’t as useful.
Second, you need to be open. There should not be a hidden account. There should not be a torn-up receipt buried in the trash can. Every move you make should be totally open to your partner (unless it directly involves a surprise, of course).
This should be a normal part of any healthy long-term relationship in which the two participants rely on each other. Without this level of complete openness, it’s very hard for the partners to make reliable financial decisions, whether it’s big choices like choosing a car or small choices like choosing items at the grocery store.
Third, you need to communicate. You have to be willing to ask questions and be willing to have questions asked of you. You also need to feel the freedom to express what you think and feel without repercussion – and your partner needs to feel that way, too. Not only that, these types of discussions need to be a normal part of life.
This isn’t about an invasion of privacy. It’s about understanding your partner better – and your partner understanding you better. We all have internal fears and concerns, but without openness with our partner, we can’t reasonably expect our partner to support us.
Finally, you need to take the first step. These principles are the key to curing broken trust in a relationship, but it’s hard to simply demand that your partner get on board with these things.
You need to make this happen. You need to start yourself. You can ask your partner to come along for the ride, but if you’re not “walking the walk,” you can’t really expect your partner to do this, either.
This is particularly true if you are the source of the infidelity, but even if you are not, it is much easier to open up your relationship in this way if you take the first step.
Fixing your relationship after financial infidelity is up to you. You have to make the choice to move your relationship toward more honesty, openness, and communication. Are you willing to take the first step?