Do You Keep Secrets from Your Spouse?

I was reading a blog post at Single Guy Money where he relates the story of a friend who was hiding money from her husband. This woman apparently has a secret checking account where she keeps money that her husband doesn’t know about. My jaw about hit the floor when I read that. Do people really do this?

I know they must, because you hear about it every day. Oprah and Dr. Phil produce popular television shows by featuring wives or husbands who are keeping financial secrets from their spouses.

Still, I can’t imagine keeping that kind of secret from my husband. It goes against everything I believe about marriage. We are a partnership. A team. When we don’t agree on finances, we talk it out until we can come to an agreement. If we’re not agreeing on the budget, then something is unbalanced. We make compromises until the budget is acceptable.

One of those compromises came yesterday. We’ve been in a really tight financial situation since my husband lost his job last May. He’s working again, but the money isn’t as good. Our newspaper subscription recently came up for renewal, and we talked about canceling the subscription. My husband left for work before we had come to a conclusion on the subject.

Later in the day he called me. He let me know he had bought a NASCAR magazine, and then he told me he was having second thoughts about canceling the newspaper. I gave him our budget numbers, and we decided that we do need to cancel the newspaper, but we can probably pick up a copy of the Sunday paper at the store every once in a while.

Since we’re on a tight budget, I could have gotten irritated with his purchase of the magazine, but I realize that everyone needs to make a frivolous purchase every once in a while. My husband is pretty reasonable in this regard. He doesn’t buy magazines and coffees every day, so I don’t give him a hard time when he splurges. He gives me the same courtesy.

We also took a look at the numbers together and agreed something needed to go. The most logical thing for us to drop right now is our newspaper subscription. Numbers don’t lie. Both spouses need to be willing to accept their income for what it is, and then make the adjustments to live within that income. When my husband saw the numbers, he knew that giving up the paper was the right thing to do. It’s not worth arguing about if there’s no other solution.

Finally, honesty is important in a marriage. In the case of Single Guy’s friend, how is the husband going to feel when he finds out about his wife’s secret account? And it will happen. It always does. How is he ever going to trust her with money again? As uncomfortable as it is, it’s better to argue about the finances until you can come to a reasonable compromise than it is to resort to lying to your spouse.

It’s all about having respect for your spouse’s desires and being willing to work within the framework of your financial situation. If a couple can’t do that, it’s an indicator that there is something more wrong than just their finances.



Author

By , on Sep 7, 2007
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{12 Comments}

  1. cassie tyler:

    i found a bank card in my husbands name. i have noticed recently he makes frequent unexplained cash withdrawals from our checking account. i assume he is putting this money into the new account. i have found a computer i did not know about. i think it is time to leave.

  2. Rich:

    “The borrower is a slave to the lender.” Prov 22:7

    That said, my wife duped me for the third time in our eight year marriage. She managed to run up ~50K in debt on nine credit cards of which I was unaware. We had this problem two times before much to my shock and horror, each time I cleaned up the mess and sacrificed to pay down the debt. She promised it wouldn’t happen again. She lied! It is wrong!! Period!!!

    If I did this to my employer, I would be doing jail time. If I did this to someone off the street whom I have no legal relation to, I would be doing jail time. Somehow, within the sphere of a marriage, this is perfectly legal to do to your spouse. Wrong, traumatizing, but legal.

    I am divorcing my wife of nine years after being lied to an manipulated one too many times. It’s amazing the scale of the lies she told. Not just one or two big lies but multiple “maintenance” lies to keep the deception going over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, my daugther will suffer as well for my wifes foolishness. How can you ever dig your way out a hole? What a fool.

    If you are a spouse who is engaging in this type of activity take heed. You are hurting those near to you in a way that you cannot even imagine. I would rather that my wife had an adulterous affair. It wouldn’t have cost me ~100K and all of the missed opportunities that go with it.

    Debt = owed money. Owed money = time & energy to pay back. Time & energy = your life, your precious time here on earth. Debt is waste.

  3. Lin:

    Lynnae, I’m a new subscriber and this post caught my eye. I think under normal marital conditions hiding money from a spouse is a terrible practice and should not occur.

    However, I believe there are situations that might require it. In my first marriage, I was a battered wife for fifteen years. He controlled all the money, and I had little or no access to any unless he gave it to me or gave me specific permission of how much I could spend. If I went even one dollar over, I had to go back to the store and return something and bring back “his money”.

    Due to mitigating/religious/cult circumstances, my family was of no help. When I made the decision to escape the marriage, I managed to get a part time job for six months without my husband ever knowing about it, putting every penny into a secret account in order to afford my divorce lawyer and move out of state.

    I will never forget the look of shock on his face when he received his divorce papers, at the very moment I was driving away from our house for the very last time. Some situations might require hiding money, it can sometimes save people’s lives.

  4. Lynnae:

    @Sarah – I am so sorry to hear this. I agree with you that this is not trivial, and I wish I had some great advice to share with you. Unfortunately I don’t. Do you have a pastor or an older, wiser friend you could turn to?

  5. Sarah:

    I just found out yesterday that my husband has been taking extra money out of his check each week and then lying to me about how much he made and deposited into our checking account. To make matters worse he had his brother, sister-in-law, and grandma all helping him get this money out and hide it from me. The total he has taken out has been $2800 in 5 months. I am so upset I don’t know what to do. When I confronted him he said I am stupid for getting so upset about something so trivial. He doesn’t understand that I am upset because he lied to me and deceived me for a year. He thinks that it is his money so he the right to it. Please help. Anyone with advice is greatly appreciated. P.S. We have been married 14 years and never had a trust issue before.

  6. Lynnae:

    Fabulously Broke, you are absolutely right. There needs to be balance.

  7. Fabulously Broke:

    I agree with glblguy and you, Lynnae.

    I was getting into the same mindset – upset if we overspent in categories, but Husband had to rein me back in and say: Look, we’re putting an INSANE amount of our pay into debt. We’re doing good. Stop stressing, just re-allocate and we’ll do better next month. Life isn’t about strict budgets and boundaries.

  8. Lynnae:

    I know exactly where you’re coming from. I used to get really upset too. It got better when we worked on the budget together and agreed. And if I’m completely honest, I splurge now and again, too, so how can I possibly be angry at him for buying one little magazine?

  9. Lynnae, I think one of the key points you made in this article was not getting upset with your husband for buying a Nascar magazine.

    When we first started budgetting, being the anal detailed type, I would get upset anytime we didn’t stick EXACTLY to the budget. After about a month, I noticed by wife was hating the budget more and more each day.

    What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t really the budget, but the way I was managing it that was the problem.

    What we started doing instead was, if we overspent a little on a budget category, we would just move it from another. If we overall overspent, well it would come from our emergency fund. It’s amazing when you got through the exercise of moving money from one category to another, or worse pulling from your emergency fund how that in and of itself has a much higher impact than fussing or yelling or getting upset with your spouse.

    I stopped getting upset and used the budget to control the money, it works for both of us when we overspend.

    Great thing about a budget is it solves marriage money problems. It’s not my fault anymore, its the budget’s…which by the way we both agreed to.

    Remember, budgeting like anything else is journey, it’s ok to not get it right everytime…I mean heck, it was a HUGE accomplishment just for us to HAVE a budget :-)

  10. Lynnae:

    Carrie – I totally agree. It’s one thing to hide money for for saving, but to keep spending a secret from your spouse just strikes me as wrong.

    Single Guy, thanks for the link. You wrote a great blog post, and when I read it, I just had to respond. As a married woman, what your friend did just struck me as so wrong. Thanks for coming over to comment.

  11. Lynnae – I really liked your response post. I have added a link to my post so my readers came come over and read your post.

  12. THIS is ridiculous. What kind of woman HIDES an entire account? Now Kris and I both put a little cash aside to have at the end of the two week pay period and it comes in handy. But not entire accounts. We’ll take 20 dollars or so (both of us) and put it away…Mainly because we don’t use our savings account right now. It is basically the same thing. We do all cash all the time…so to “hide” cash is like putting in the savings account.

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