• You Know What Could Be Worse Than an Affair? Financial Infidelity

    Lying about money is a breach of trust -- it can cause a marriage to crumble.
    by Rachel Perez .
  • You Know What Could Be Worse Than an Affair? Financial Infidelity
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  • In 2009, Judy Ann Santos, then newly married to husband Ryan Agoncillo, answered a question about how she and Ryan would manage their finances. "Ang pera ko, pera ko; ang pera niya, pera ko pa rin!" the award-winning actress quipped, adding that she'll only give Ryan a weekly allowance. 

    Judy Ann answered in jest, of course. But eight years later, the mom of three revealed that she doesn't make it a habit of asking her husband about his income. "Sa amin ni Ry, nagwo-work yung merong, of course, monthly allowance for the whole household. But, hindi ko ugali tanungin kung anong income niya. Ganun din siya sa akin," Judy Ann explained in a recent interview with Pep.ph. She added they supported each other's endeavors and purchases "as long as hindi nagla-lapse yung monthly responsibilities." 

    Honesty and open communication are serving Judy Ann and Ryan well. It has allowed them to set up money rules that work for them as a couple and for their family. They've created an environment where there is no need to hide money. It's not always the case in some relationships. 

    When we hear cheating in a relationship, it's almost always about a third party. But did you know about financial infidelity? Financial infidelity, or the act of deliberately lying about purchases, bank accounts, and other money-related matters with your partner, could be just as damaging to your relationship as an extra-marital affair. 

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    In 2016, The Harris poll by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in the U.S. found that 42 percent committed financial infidelity, and 75 percent said it negatively affected their relationship. This year, a survey by CreditCards.com showed that 12 million Americans admitted to keeping a credit card or bank account secret from their spouse.

    What's behind financial infidelity? "The big reason at the top of the list is that there’s a general lack of frequent and effective communication about money taking place within the couple," spokesperson for NEFE Paul Golden told Babble

    As MoneyDoctors Inc. president Joe Ferreria points out, hiding money is a bad idea because it is a breach of trust between partners and could damage the relationship.

    The only way to prevent money from driving a wedge between couples is to openly talk about it, whether you tend to spend on clothes, the kids, or the home while your husband pays for his hobbies. "The only way you’re going to understand your partner is through regular conversations that aren’t confrontations,” Golden said.

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    Preventing financial infidelity can be done by being on top of your household finances and staying vigilant and alert, says Tina B. Tessina Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together and Money, Sex, and Kids. When you find a receipt or a piece of paper indicating a purchase that you don’t recognize, have not seen copies of bills for the month, or when your partner becomes defensive or withdrawn then the topic of money is brought up – these are red flags.

    Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE, suggests the following for couples

    • Be prepared for a confrontation. 
    • Let feelings run its course so you can talk more clearly and calmly. 
    • Make sure you’ve figured out what you want going forward first. 
    • If you're the offending party, come clean and lay out plans so you can get on the same page. 

    The next step, and probably the most challenging one, is rebuilding trust. Essentially, you're going back to square one: full disclosure of your financial portfolio and making goals. "It will take sustained transparency in all communication, and it takes a commitment from both to stick to the goals that you’ve set together," Beck shared.

    There are many ways to manage finances in a marriage. Some couples have devised strategies that work for them; others do it differently. There is no one correct way, but it would be better to establish some fundamental rules. For example, any purchase over P10,000 should be disclosed, even if it’s from your pocket outside of the family's account. 

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