infographic

Financial Infidelity: Marriage and Money {Infographic}

Financial Infidelity in Marriage Infographic

I found this interesting infographic from Credit Donkey regarding money and the affect it has on marriage. Now that we’ve taken off our love-tinted glasses from Valentine’s Day, I figured it was a great time to share it.

The conclusion … a lot of us cheat when it comes to marriage … at least financially. We keep secrets. Spend money we shouldn’t. Hide purchases. Lie to one another. These acts don’t help strengthen a marriage, but only serve to pull it apart. And not surprisingly, credit card debt is another stress on marriage.

You can click on the image and the expand icon (near the top) to more easily read the infographic.

Financial Infidelity: Marriage and Money Shannon

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February 17, 2014  •  50 Comments  •  infographic

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  1. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Very interesting statistics. I'm a bit surprised there aren't more people who don't know their spouse's credit score before getting married (the infographic said 42% did not know before getting married). I didn't know my wife's credit score but I knew that she handled her finances well. I honestly would be surprised if ANY of our newlywed friends knew the other's credit score before getting married.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It is surprising how few couples really talk about finances before they get married. Of course, they don't always do a great job of talking about finances after the wedding either, unfortunately. People are uncomfortable talking about money for a variety of reasons, embarrassed about mistakes, don't want to look like all they care about is money, etc, but it something we need to do.
  2. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I know so many couples who have screwed up money situations, including a close family members who has always had separate finances with his wife. They've been bickering about who pays what for years and they just filed for divorce a few weeks ago =/
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      Sadly, it is a common problem. However you chose to handle your money as a couple - commingled or separate - you still need to communicate with each other. I'm sorry to hear about your relative and I hope they can resolve everything amicably.
  3. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    That is crazy about all of the financial deceiving that seems to be going on! We are really open with our finances, and I think that's why it has worked so well for us. I couldn't imagine it any other way.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It really is! Obviously too many people don't worry about "cheating" on their spouse when it comes to money. It's great that you two are so open with money now and will married life even easier since you're already on the same page.
  4. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Wow - I'm surprised so many people hide money from their spouses! I can see why though. I would probably too if my hubby were irresponsible with money or I felt I couldn't trust him for some other reason. Great infographic, Shannon.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      Yes, I think some couples start hiding money where their marriage start to falter or sometimes the hiding is what causes the marriage to fall apart. Neither help the situation.
  5. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I actually find it kind of sad, although I can't say I'm surprised. I think it can spill over into other areas too --- dishonesty has no place anywhere in a marriage - unless you are planning a surprise party:))
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It is sad, Leah. While I have seen firsthand how money can bring out the best and worst it couples, it still surprises me to see how many couples admit to financial "cheating". And yes, it's a slippery slope. Once you start, it's easier for dishonesty to creep into other areas of the marriage.
  6. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Very interesting stats Shannon, though not too surprising unfortunately. What gets me is the hiding and deceiving when it comes to money. I saw it all the time when I was in finance and it always saddened me. You have to find what works for you, but my wife and I both have different roles with our money that one of us would really have to actively work to hide something. It makes me thankful to have that as so many others do not.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      Yes, I see it too and it is always sad. They often wonder why their marriage is struggling and I can't see how deceiving one another can strengthen a marriage. You do have to figure out what works for best for you and honor that agreement. I feel grateful too that I have a partner that I can communicate openly with about finance. Makes a huge difference!
  7. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I am a strong advocate for combining all the finances. Makes you work as a team for everything and nothing can be hid. Although, I do admit I sometimes hide purchases as in birthday or xmas presents! I have to pay with cash so he doesn't find out : )
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It's perfectly acceptable to hide purchases when they are a gift! It's just everything else that can be an issue. It is important to develop a team mindset which some people struggle to do. But we have to start thinking "we" instead of "me".
  8. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Oh man, lying about money is a quick route to an unhappy marriage for sure. We try to be pretty open about everything, though I do try to hide any gifts I've bought for my wife until it's time to give them!
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      I agree, Matt! I'd say it's one of the fastest routes to marital discord. I hide presents from Chris and the girls too, but everything else we are transparent on, even with the girls.
  9. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Nice Infographic! I actually do not find the stats surprising at all. Many people unfortunately enter into marriages lying about something, and it is no surprise that their finances may be one of them. Personally I am a chatter box and can't keep a secret to save my life, so lying just doesn't work for me. :-)
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It's so sad that so many people do enter marriages keeping secrets, financial or otherwise. It's a hard place to start a marriage. It's great that you and your husband are keep the communication channel open, chatter box or not! LOL!
  10. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Wow, these stats are eye opening, but prove something we both know. People definitely keep financial secrets all the time and think that they won't impact the relationship. If you truly love someone, then you have to trust them with everything, even the ugly financial information.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It's true - a lot of people keeping secrets don't think it will harm their marriage. They mistakenly believe that exposing their secrets will ruin their marriage. And in some instances, it may but I think it's far more probable that keeping money secrets will do more harm to a marriage than good.
  11. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I start talking about money on the first date, just to set the precedent early on.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      Sounds like a good plan and definitely let's you see how comfortable they are communicating about money.
  12. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Great infographic! When do you think the right time to start talking about finances is? I'd love to have the ability to start talking about money on the first date, but it would be hard for me.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      I don't know if there is a "perfect" time but you should certainly have a good understanding of each other's financial situation and money philosophy when it appears that it's going to be a long-term relationship and certainly before you co-habit, married or unmarried. Because money is such a taboo topic for many, they may be uncomfortable initially so you do have to ease your partner into these conversations if it's unchartered territory for him or her. You don't want them to feel as though you're judging them or make them feel defensive.
  13. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Though we keep some of our finances separate, we do discuss our money and know where it is going. We don't fight over who will pay, because we do have a joint account where most of our bills are paid. We have never had one issue with money and we have been together for almost 9 years. We created our system and it works best for us. It doesn't work for everyone, but there is no "cheating" in our marriage.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It's great that you and your wife put together a system that works for you and communicate very well with each other. It's amazing how much of a difference good communication and a shared vision makes. Even couples who completely commingle their money because they assume that will alleviate all money arguments will still have financial strain in their marriage if they dot communicate well or keep money secrets from each other.
  14. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I was just reading Hayley's post today about her husband had kept his debt secret from her after they were married. Very interesting. I think I would be very upset if that happened to me, but understand why someone would have a hard time telling their SO about financial problems. I think money needs to be a very open and discussed topic among couples.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      I read her post too and I can imagine it was hard for both of them when he finally revealed it to her. We often assume when we hear money secrets that the person keeping the secret is doing it to be devious but many times they erroneously think they are protecting their partner from unnecessary stress. I agree that money needs to be transparent in a relationship and something that is discussed frequently.
  15. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Wow, that is definitely an eye-opening infographic! Just...wow...
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      I think it had some interesting stats too. :)
  16. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I'm kind of surprised that the 'cohabitating, not a parent' stat for women is pretty low, but at least it makes me look forward to moving into the married category soon. These are really interesting stats, though I agree some are not surprising - I see some situations in real life (my friend just noticed $3k missing since the mate made a purchase without notifying/touching base first - ouch), and it's really hard to witness.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      It is hard to witness loved ones argue about money due to a lack of good communication or helping them after they discover their partner has been financially "cheating". People do it more than we realize. Sometimes their intentions were innocent but it still diminishes trust in a relationship, which is so important to a lasting marriage. And yes - soon you'll move from cohabit to married - woo-hoo!!
  17. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    Wow interesting! Unfortunately I know a lot of married friends that spend in secret and hide stuff from their spouses. It's crazy cause sometimes it is big amounts.
    • Shannon
      Monday, February 17th, 2014
      Sadly, more people hide purchases from their spouses more than we realize. It's definitely not a good habit to get into as eventually it catches up to you and puts unnecessary strain in the relationship.
  18. Monday, February 17th, 2014
    I think it's very sad that 50% was the highest percentage of very happy women and even less for men. I am currently reading a book about when the Taliban took over much of Pakistan. I think we all need to appreciate how lucky we are and make better use of all the opportunities we have solely for being born in the US. Unless someone is living in the street or in a abusive situation, we really don't have it that bad.
    • Shannon
      Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
      We do too easily forget how fortunate we are and instead focus on all the things "wrong" in our lives. It is sad how few men and women are happy in their marriage, although given the 50% divorce rate, I guess it makes sense, unfortunately.
  19. Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
    I can believe these stats, especially as I've actually gone through something similar to this in my own marriage (great timing as I just wrote a post about it). My hubby and I kept our finances separate for years and debt was a taboo subject. Even after we married, our finances were separate. Once things start going wrong financially like what happened with us, it's very difficult to explain to your other half for fear of losing them. It's much better to be open from the start and before getting married! I have to say though that our marriage is stronger than ever luckily. :)
    • Shannon
      Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
      I read your post, Hayley and I can imagine that was a very difficult conversation for you and your husband. Some people hide debt because they care little about their spouse's feelings while others do it because they made a mistake and want to protect their loved one. And yes, they also fear losing them too. Understandable reasons as to why they carry the burden alone but it can still cause problems. I'm glad your husband confessed and the two of you were able to figure out a plan of action together!
  20. Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
    I think it happens even in the most open relationships. I remember my dad whispering "don't tell mom how much this was!" when he bought her a necklace for Christmas as well as my mom insisting to "better not tell dad" how much money we spent shopping.
    As long as it's harmless and there's no ferrari hiding in the garage, I think there's nothing wrong with a little white lie is harmless.
    • Shannon
      Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
      Keeping a gift secret is definitely not a problem - that's the fun of a gift! I prefer to keep money very transparent in a relationship. When I go shopping with Lauren and Taylor, I don't ask them to keep secrets, unless it is a present, and instead say "I can't wait to show your Dad what we bought!". We trust each other to spend our family money wisely and don't have to report every item we buy to each other (like a cup of coffee) but we also don't hide how we spend money from each other. Having worked with many people going through a divorce, I have seen how money secrets - big and small - can harm a marriage.
  21. Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
    Fatal Fiscal Attraction. Love that line. It makes sense that those comfortable talking about money likely end up with people similar or force someone to change. I can't imagine being with someone that lies to me about money. Hopefully you see a pattern there well before you say "I do."
    • Shannon
      Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
      I know - great line! :) Yes, a like-minded stance when it comes to relationships makes it much easier to communicate. And like you said, sometimes you meet someone who isn't use to talking about money but that doesn't mean they can't change either. Lies diminish trust and once you realize someone is lying about one thing, you naturally start to wonder what else they lie about. You and Peach communicate so well with each other, which is great to see.
  22. Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
    Interesting infographic Shannon, thanks for sharing.

    We know some couples who keep their finances separate. They have their own bank accounts and their own debt. I haven't heard any complaints over their situation but we choose to have joint accounts and I think that works better for us.

    I have to admit I'm part of the 54% who neglects to tell the hubby about minor purchases. But I do fess up eventually :).

    Hope you're having a great day Shannon! Happy Tuesday!
    • Shannon
      Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
      Couples definitely need to figure out what works best for them when it comes to handling their money. It really doesn't matter if you commingle or don't but you must communicate well so there are no hurt feelings or misunderstanding that snowball into a bigger problem. I believe money should be transparent in a relationship but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to call your husband because you bought a Coke and fries at McDonalds. :) It's a completely different thing when you're blatantly lying about purchases and spending money that you don't have. Now that's something that could drive a wedge in your marriage.
  23. Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
    Very interesting stats. It's odd, because my wife and I don't share every little minor purchase (if she buys a stick of gum or I get a gatorade) I don't expect her to share that with me, although we do talk about money we've spent for the day. But with a joint checking account, there really is not hiding from finances. We both have access to see what is being spent and where it's going.
    • Shannon
      Thursday, February 20th, 2014
      Especially with online banking, it's much harder for people with all their money commingled to hide purchases from each other. I agree - there has to be a system so you can buy a pack of gum, etc without feeling the need to "report" in but at the same time be accountable so that you don't also blow the budget either. It takes some trial and error to figure it out! Unfortunately too many couples don't take the time to sort it out, but I'm glad you and your wife have a system that works for you.
  24. Thursday, February 20th, 2014
    My wife and I were already sharing accounts and getting loans together even before we got married. We just decided, I guess, that we wanted our lives to be fully intertwined. The fact that we were both pretty broke at that moment perhaps made things a little cleaner.
    • Shannon
      Thursday, February 20th, 2014
      And even better - you got out of debt together too! :)
  25. Thursday, February 20th, 2014
    Interesting stats. It is pretty sad, that not enough couples communicate with each other about their finances. Ya I'm with DC on the credit score thing. I'm surprised that 57% actually knew their partner's credit score (or claimed to). I couldn't even tell you my wife's, but we're very open about our finances and I know we're on the right track.
    • Shannon
      Thursday, February 20th, 2014
      It does seem a bit high. Some couples may have assumed they have the same credit score, which isn't necessarily true. :) It does seem strange given how high the divorce rate and finances often being a common reason for it that more people don't talk about finances with their spouse. It seems like something you want to take care of right away.
Shannon Ryan SHANNON RYAN, CFP®
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan
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