by Mary Thorson
“The best proof of love is trust.” Dr. Joyce Brothers, American psychologist, television personality and columnist
Love may make the world go around for couples, but, money may determine if the trip is an adventure or a nightmare. Many experts, like Dr. Joyce Brothers quoted above, believe trust is the common denominator to strong relationships. Few things can damage trust between two people faster than financial values incompatibility and financial infidelity.
How you and your partner view money and finances includes the perceived value of your respective jobs and the compensation received; how money should be allocated for spending, saving, and investing; how credit should be used and to what extent; who should be responsible for paying bills; how the individual finances and family finances support individual and family goals; and how planning can be accomplished for long-term care for you, your partner, and other family members, such as aging parents.
If you are going to “hide” financial information from your partner, you’d better decide how you will do that successfully over the long term. Take, for instance, “hidden” assets, like income from a covert job, benefits paid by a former employer or the government, gambling winnings, gifts or inheritance from friends or family, raises or bonuses, or any other thing of value you own. For a period of time, you may be able to funnel funds into a bank account for which your partner is unaware, and, you may even be able to hold down a second job secretly without much trouble. At some point, as it is said, the ‘rubber meets the road.’ Depending on how you and your partner handle other financial dealings in your relationship, such as applying for loans or filing taxes, and, depending on the consistency with which you can obtain statements and other communications about the assets privately, you may be able to extend the time during which the assets can be hidden. Once discovered, the trust is likely irreparably damaged.
Liabilities may be more difficult to hide than assets. If there is enough money coming in to comfortably cover payments without straining finances needed for another obligation, or, if the debt is of a very short term and can be quickly resolved, the hidden debt may not be detected for a period of time. Habitual debts, like spending addictions, gambling, credit card abuse, or shuffling debt payments to keep any one account from becoming extremely overdue, have a propensity to fall at some point like a house of cards. Again, discovery of the debt destroys the trust your partner once had.
Communication about financial issues and willingness to work at both short-term and long-term solutions are keys to both partners feeling comfortable with the financial situation. Understanding of the financial picture facilitates trust in future stability and decision making.