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The Loving Thought of Financial Fidelity

By Beverly Bowers February 14, 2024 Managing Money

This is the time of year we focus on those we love. Children share valentines in school, heart-shaped boxes full of candy disappear from the shelves, florists run out of red roses, and jewelry stores appeal to lovers of any age. There is a special focus on couples and ways to express the love they share. There seems to be an aura of goodwill and happiness.

Of course, it would be wonderful if our expressions of love were more frequent. A hug, an email, an invitation to coffee or lunch, or an “I love you!” go a long way. Even a smile on your face can make someone feel special and appreciated. Perhaps you make that your practice.

Financial Love

During my career as a financial advisor, I met with many, many couples. However, often only one person would attend the meeting, typically a male. There are lots of reasons that only one person was able to attend our meetings. Perhaps the non-attendee had a schedule conflict. In the division of household duties, perhaps managing the couple’s finances was assigned to one person. Sadly, perhaps there was no interest from the non-attendees.

In any case, I submit that it is an act of love to include all partners in financial meetings. Finances or money issues are the number one reason for divorces or break-ups of partnerships. It is imperative that both partners have a clear picture of all income and expenses, assets and liabilities, family net worth, investments and retirement plans, and then together set goals for the future.

I call that financial fidelity.

Financial Fidelity

Financial fidelity is the opposite of financial infidelity. Financial infidelity is when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. Examples of financial infidelity can include hiding existing debts, excessive expenditures without notifying the other partner, and lying about the use of money. It is relatively easy in our online email and bill pay world to hide expenditures. However, making financial decisions that affect the other person without their knowledge is a form of financial infidelity.

Defensiveness or stonewalling when one partner raises the subject of money is common among couples struggling with financial infidelity. Money is a sensitive topic even when two individuals are close. Financial infidelity can damage trust and relationship satisfaction and stability and can even have legal implications for married couples. When both partners are not on the same page about money, financial issues can lead to the couple splitting up or create unhappiness in the relationship.

How to Show Financial Love

If you are guilty of financial infidelity, the best thing is to come clean. If desired, counselors can facilitate the conversation. In some cases, financial infidelity may be a sign of mental health issues which need professional treatment to prevent the behavior in the future. In any case, experts say it’s important not to accuse, but to gather the facts and discuss priorities and what to do about them.

All financial accounts must be open to both parties for scrutiny and discussion. Try to find shared goals that you both can work toward. If there’s a lot of debt, develop a plan to pay it off and together commit to keep new debts from popping up. Make and stick to a budget. A budget provides a path to follow every month so that both partners can keep track of spending.

With every aspect of a partnership, good communication is the key and communication about finances is critical. Financial love is important to the success of your marriage or partnership, so I encourage you to give it your top priority.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever hidden purchases from your spouse or partner? What happened? How can you show financial love?

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Being in agreement at least about the broad strokes about finances is crucial for your relationship success. I had a long relationship with a wonderful man who was deeply in debt and constantly giving money he couldn’t afford to his adult children, for frivolous reasons. I guess he didn’t want them to grow up – maybe he liked their dependance on him?. There was no financial infidelity, he was very frank from the start about how much debt he was in. He’d also had bad luck financially- years of high alimony payments. But his spending dug him in deeper..His refusal to face that he was going to be broke in his old age if he didn’t control his spending caused serious arguing, which ultimately ended our relationship. (I had my own money but I couldn’t support both of us). He has been a high earner all his life, yet he may end up living in his son’s basement.

Beverly Bowers

I am sure it was a difficult choice to end your relationship and so hard to see someone you love continually make poor financial choices. Thank you for sharing.

The Author

Beverly Bowers is a retired financial planner who has been solely responsible for her financial life over 25 years. Her passion is to make investments understandable – dispel the mystery and simplify the process. In 2021 she self-published a book, How to Dress a Naked Portfolio, a Tailored Introduction to Investing for Women. She relishes questions from all levels of investors. You may submit questions and sign up for her blogs on her website.

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