I bought a beautiful emerald ring right after Christmas. It was a deep green stone flanked by diamonds set in gold. It was perfect. My second son was born in May, and I wanted to reward myself for giving birth to him and by being a great mommy by buying myself his birthstone. It was my gift to myself.
Except I was afraid my husband wouldn’t approve the purchase of this trinket. So I kept it from him for a few months, and because it was a secret, I couldn’t wear my ring. It stayed hidden in my closet, a festering secret that stressed me out, especially every time my husband passed by my closet! Finally, I took out the ring, showed it to my husband and confessed.
He didn’t get mad. He was disappointed that I didn’t talk to him about the purchase, that I thought he wouldn’t approve of it, that I hid it from him, and that I hid it for months. Then he asked, “What else have you been lying to me about?” That pierced my heart but I deserved it. I promised then and there to never lie to my husband about money ever again.
Are you and your spouse open about your financial matters or are you cheating? Here are four red flags to watch out for:
You don’t want to talk about money. Do you get defensive when your wife asks about your salary or the credit card bill? Do you get embarrassed to tell your husband about your credit card debt? Does your wife know exactly how much you earn? Does your husband know where all your money goes?
Many couples refuse to talk about money issues because it feels too personal. Treat money from a business perspective—acknowledge your household is a company with income and expenses, that you are a team in charge of the household’s financial success, and agree to be transparent in all financial dealings.
You have an account your spouse doesn’t know about. Many couples maintain a joint account then keep a personal account for guilt-free gifts to themselves or their spouse. But separate accounts can lead to separate lives. Some husbands keep a secret account so that they don’t have to explain every expense to their wives or to have some semblance of autonomy. Some wives keep a secret account for that feared scenario—“just in case my husband leaves me.”
It’s perfectly fine to have many bank accounts or investment products just as long as your spouse knows about all of them.
You control all the money. There is usually one partner who is assigned to take charge of paying the bills because that spouse is the one who is more organized or has the time to line up at the bank. This is different from the spouse who insists he’s in charge of the income and where it all goes with no input whatsoever from the other. Both partners must work together in earning, managing and spending.
For example, if your husband is the only one controlling the money, this means he has problems trusting how you will spend the money. Whether this doubt is reasonable or not, a relationship is built on trust and respect. Lacking those translates to a marriage deep in trouble.
You hide purchases. You don’t have to call your husband every time you take out your wallet. “Honey, can I have coffee and cake for merienda at Starbucks?” or “Baby, I need a new toothbrush. Can I buy one?” will just exasperate him. But if you find yourself constantly hiding shopping bags, receipts and credit card bills from your husband, ask yourself why you’re ashamed of what you spend on.
Did you notice the words “hide,” “shame,” “lie,” “doubt” and “secret”? These are words that should never be part of a marriage. Why do couples spend and save money behind each other’s backs? Some say it’s their way of having control, of having petty revenge, or feeling a sense of freedom. But you must remember that a marriage is teamwork. Your success is your spouse’s success! So be honest, respectful, trusting and supportive in every aspect, especially money!
Former magazine editor-in-chief and mother of two cute boys Frances Amper Sales now writes for her own blogs Topaz Horizon where she writes about the fun things in life while she shares about her parenting adventures at Mommy Topaz.
Image used under Creative Commons from stevendepolo