3 Financial Lies That Guarantee Divorce

By Scott And Bethany Palmer for YourTango.com.

What if we could tell you three things that would guarantee the end of your marriage? Would you listen? Do you even think you need to? What really transpires between “I do” and “we’re done” anyway? Every relationship is unique, but if you’re not careful, these three things will guarantee divorce.

1. Sneaky Spending
Don’t tune out because we’re talking money, not sex. Divorced couples said money was the #1 reason they split up, more often than any other reason. And it doesn’t matter how “well off” you are. Whether you’re loaded or limping along, sneaky spending ruins relationships. Less-than-honest spending looks different for every couple. And some personalities struggle with sneaky spending more than others. Sometimes it’s large amounts, but often it’s small potatoes, or at least it starts that way.

More from YourTango: Love & Money: Is There Balance In Your Relationship?

Don’t think there’s sneaky spending in your marriage? How about the forgot-to-mention credit card, saying the bar tab was $60 when it was really $260, quietly investing in the next big thing, funding your buddy who’s always just “a little short,” hiding receipts, or borrowing money to cover past mistakes? They all add up to dishonesty in your marriage, and can potentially lead to divorce.

Take Sue and Jamal, a young, successful, ladder-climbing couple with a new home and two enviable paychecks. Jamal dreamed of a strong woman by his side. He had big career aspirations, maybe even a political future, and he wanted a soulmate and a woman who could look the part. Sue was perfect and always looked stunning. He loved that about her and Sue knew it. Sue also knew Jamal had no idea what it cost to “look this good.” So when he began to question her purchases, she saved him the pain (after all, he couldn’t handle a day in her lowest Jimmy Choos), and opened her own credit card to handle her “necessary” expenses. Jamal didn’t need to be bothered. But “bothered” does not begin to describe Jamal when he will eventually open a rather fat letter and reads about Sue’’ overdue credit card bill. Sue’s purchases started small, but grew beyond the tallest stiletto before she realized it.

Sneaking around, even if we’re only talking about money, guarantees divorce.

2. Secret Savings
But wait, in this economy, how could saving ever be wrong? When you don’t trust your spouse enough to tell him or her about it.

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Carolyn Hax, columnist for The Washington Post, recently told a reader questioning her husband’s honesty in their marriage that “the advantages you have are intimacy, transparency, and trust” and if you torch those, your marriage goes up in flames. Just like Sue’s sneaky omission of the facts with Jamal, a spouse secretly hiding money forfeits the “transparency and trust” and commits the same crime.

Take this email we recently received from a heart-broken empty nester. Kathleen is the mother of two daughters in college. Her girls chose schools far enough from home where she didn’t see their dirty laundry, but close enough their holiday table was noisy and full.

Kathleen’s husband ran a tight financial ship, but she never felt the kids suffered tremendously because of it. Although, as young girls they wore Sears clothes instead of matching Gymboree outfits, played soccer in the yard versus expensive league play, and wore hand-me-down Prom dresses. Kathleen’s “go without” list bothered her over the years, but she’d been told money was tight. Little did she know, her husband had been socking away hefty piles of cash he never let on they had. When the first student loan bill arrived, Tom wrote an enormous check from an account Kathleen had never heard of. Kathleen was stunned.

On the one hand, she was thrilled. But she was also bothered that they had never talked about it. All that money, for all those years, and she never knew about it. Kathleen thought, “So the girls could have picked out new dresses for the Prom?” How do you go back and do that now? Kathleen knows you can’t. Had Kathleen known about Tom’s savings she would have still run a thrifty ship, but she would have loved an occasional splurge — if only she’d known. Why didn’t Tom trust Kathleen with the truth?

Secrets are a great way to guarantee divorce.

More from YourTango: Don’t Let Money Ruin Your Relationship: 5 Financial Tips

3. Juvenile Justification
The third way to guarantee divorce is to justify your sneaky money lies. You tell yourself your situation is different. Your secretive behavior is for the good of the marriage. Like a little day trading. She thinks it puts that bigger house within reach before the market bell rings, maybe. Or he thinks his sister always got a raw deal with mom and dad so paying off her car loan seems only fair. Insert your immature rationale for your less-than-honest, less-than-transparent money behavior. Tempting, right?

But surprise, no one likes surprises. Surprises can lead to divorce. But we can’t be all doom and gloom. Because it doesn’t have to be that way! You can overcome or avoid all three of these marriage killers. You can stop it right now, and move forward by coming clean, forgiving each other, and building new patterns in your life and your relationship.

Secrets suffocate your relationship. Remove their toxic stranglehold and breath easy together, forever, or face the painful possibility of divorce.

Get free help today at TheMoneyCouple.com with our scientific Money Personality Quiz or pick up our latest book The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Money Matters: Why These 3 Financial Lies Guarantee Divorce.

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Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa8 months ago

Thank you

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarloabout a year ago

these are also the very things that do not come up in cohabitation situations- and leads to "surprise" after marriage they were not expecting

Warren Webber
Warren Webber1 years ago

Live long & prosper!

Tim C.
Tim C.1 years ago


Elena T.
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you :)

Genoveva M M.
Genoveva M G.1 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.1 years ago

Secrets are devastating since there's no openness, trust and honesty. Sadly though, money aside there are a lot of things these days that almost guarantee divorce not the least of which is getting married in the first place.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.1 years ago

My experience shows the opposite (I am not married myself, but this is an example from my family): if the husband is overbearing and wants to take his wife's whole salary, secret saving is a necessity, or else she won't even be able to afford face cream and other things a woman needs, but a man doesn't necessarily understand. This case did end in divorce, but it's impossible to bear domestic financial abuse for a long time. A woman who works hard and earns money should have the right to keep it and not give it all to her husband, who may just give her a little bit of 'pin money', or not even that.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.1 years ago

Great. Divorce is the second-best thing to happen to a married woman (next to becoming a widow, of course)!

Val M.
Val M.1 years ago