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Financial infidelity

August 17, 2019

I was browsing my social media timeline when I saw a video post of a group of teenagers having a hilarious facial expression while enjoying one extreme ride in a theme park. For yuppies, riding the Star Frisbee would be very thrilling, but for adulterers, infidelity could be an exciting experience. In a survey conducted, 90 percent of the participants considered infidelity to be unacceptable. Yet, among married couples, an estimated 20 to 40 percent of men and 10 to 25 percent of women will stray.

Infidelity is not limited to sexual relationships. Majority of the couples experience marital turmoil not only because of lust issue but as well as financial infidelity, wherein one partner hides financial information or behavior from the other. I’ve seen it many times among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Seafarers send money to their extended family without the knowledge of their wives. Wives who are receiving money from abroad help their siblings without even asking any permission from their husbands who are working aboard tirelessly.

You might say it would be an overrated word to describe that act. But just like sexual infidelity, keeping financial secret is an abuse of trust that will surely damage the relationship sooner if not now. Like a small fling, financial infidelity usually starts on a small scale, like hiding impulsive purchase or lying about how much something costs.

There are plenty of reasons why someone would hide financial information or situation from their partners. It would range from family pressure to gambling or any form of addiction or simply a reason of much deeper infidelity — affair. Once you notice that financial infidelity is manifesting, it should be confronted at the very onset. I know that this would be a very difficult conversation, but brushing it under the rug would spell disaster in the future. You need to figure out why this thing is happening. What is your contribution to why this thing happened? Do you allow your partner to open up to you without being judged and allow him/her to experience being understood?

It is also a good idea if you will ask help from a third person to guide you to unravel the root cause of it. A marital counselor or financial planner would usually be a great help for this. If you will confront it, you will surely discover a deeper issue why this is happening, so be prepared. I always advise couples who are under my coaching program that if you want to have a peaceful and loving long-term relationship, you should understand that it is not only the last name that will be shared during the marriage but the plethora of things and obligations as well, including money.

How are you going to rebuild the trust in the relationship? You may start by signing a joint bank or investment account. I know that trust is the most difficult to win back once it is ruined, but if you want to give your relationship another chance, you need to be unaffected by the past. Learn how to forgive and help your partner start embracing a deeper meaning of your relationship not only emotionally but financially as well. Both of you should address the anxieties and issues around money as this is not only about your partner. Recognize that you have your financial behavior issue too. Give vulnerability a space in your relationship values.

Once the issue is resolved, you may now sit down and talk about who will be the chief financial officer of the family. Gone are the days that budgeting is a woman thing only. For sure if you are willing to make your relationship work and both of you are willing to commit on being open to each other, living happily ever after will not just be a fairy tale.

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Christopher G. Cervantes is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines. He is author of Financial Planning for the Fast Changing World and The Seed Money. Visit his web site at www.cardinalbuoy.com or follow him on Twitter @cervantes_rfp. To learn more about personal financial planning, attend the 78th RFP program this September 2019. To inquire, email info@rfp.ph or text <name><email><RFP> to 0917-9689774.

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