A dollar here. A credit card charge there. Newschannel six is learning that married couples are hiding money from each other. Secretly spending to buy that new pair of shoes, a fancy new golf glove, or even something as little as a soft drink out of the vending machine. If you've been guilty of buying something without telling your significant other, listen up.
It's known as financial infidelity and we've learned that it is causing divorces. In fact, one study showed only substance abuse or an extra marital affair causes more problems, whether it's $10 or $10-million.
Hiding money from your spouse has the possibility of ruining a marriage. A recent study found that 68% of adults say a current and or past relationship was affected by financial deceptions that were committed; 58% said they hid cash from their partner or spouse.
"It's very common that at any given time in my practice that there are one or two couples that are dealing with this issue," said Dr. David Sabine.
Dr. Sabine is an author and Clinical Psychologist. In his 20-plus-years of practice he has seen his share of marital problems and deceptive financial situations are not uncommon. "Financially stability is really important, but finances mean something else also that is very connected to love, and that is, can I trust you with the most important resources we have and love is one of the resources we share, but also our financial resources we share in a marriage...so it's central to wither the relationship is going to make it or not," said Sabine.
Pastor Reggie Coe at Grace Church performs pre-marital counseling and has married hundreds of couples. He says hiding cash or credit cards or debt is not much different than cheating on a spouse with someone else. "It erodes trust. Trust is the foundational attitude of what it takes for a marriage to be healthy and for infidelity of any type financial, relational, whatever. It requires deception, deceit, secrets," says Pastor Coe.
Credit Specialist Gail Cunningham said, "It's going to catch up with them. And you know what? It might even catch up with them after they die."
Cunningham knows first hand of a man who's wife hid some big debt from him until after she had passed away.
"I know of people who have called me and said 'Gail my wife passed away a couple of months ago, I just got a credit card statement in the mail for a card I didn't even know we had and she owed them 16-thousand dollars,'" said Cunningham.
That gentleman is not alone.
Attorney Bruce Martin has represented his share of divorce clients and it's not just women doing the secret spending.
"A woman catches the scent of another woman then all of a sudden we find credit cards," said Martin. "It all encourages this plan of long term secrecy that's hard to break that veil but you devote a lot of time to it."
We asked if this a problem that can be fixed?
"Obviously the couple can fix it," said Pastor Coe. "The answer lies within their heart and their willingness to face whatever and trust God to hold them together while the other person works through it." Pastor Coe said honesty has to be restored. Accountability must be established, and forgiveness is a must. The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to talk about it.
"It doesn't sound very romantic, you know?" said Dr. Sabine. "Let me see your finances, but to really be honest and open about that up front and then as the relationship proceeds to keep those lines of communication open."
"If you discover that financial infidelity has gone on in your home, then it's time to absolutely have a loving and gentle conversation," said Gail Cunningham. "Pointing that 'ugly finger of blame' will not solve anything."
The key in all of this, as in any relationship, is honesty. Also, don't be scared to talk about it. Forbes Magazine did a study on financial infidelity and 67% of the couples said it caused an argument. 16% said the money lie lead to a divorce. That means more than half were able to work the problem out.
Chris Horgen, Newschannel 6