The Sting of Financial Infidelity

Marcy discovered some shady behavior by her husband and wants to know how to protect herself.

QUESTION: Marcy in Michigan wants to know how to protect herself from financial infidelity. Her husband spent more than $10,000 when she asked him not to; he also ran up $17,000 in credit card debt. Now he wants to separate their accounts so she can't monitor his spending. Dave doesn't think this is a money problem, and separating accounts will make things worse.

Dave's ANSWER: He lies a lot. I don't trust people who lie. He wants to separate the accounts so he can do whatever the flip he wants to do; that's not going to work for you. That's not even going to mask the problem well. It's going to cause the problem to get worse. What he wants is no accountability.

If you are going to act like you're single, you should be. I don't think this is a money problem, I think this is a complete meltdown in your marriage because your husband is a liar and you've lost respect for him. I think this is for your pastor and your marriage counselor.

There is not a checking account or a personal financial system that protects you from him lying and going deeply into debt. When you get divorced, you'll still have to face all that. You can't draw up a situation to protect yourself from a liar. You have to not be a liar; that's how this gets fixed.

You have to start acting like you're married. Translation: You don’t get to live your own life anymore when you are married. You are there to serve him and he's there to serve you. The Bible says to submit yourselves one to another. That means you lift each other and you take care of each other and you care about the other one more than you care about yourself.

That's not to say that you don't exist or you don't have an identity or wishes or a vote; you have all of those things. He has all of those things. You have to hear him and he has to hear you in the process. All of that is there. But thinking that there is some system that allows him to do whatever he wants to do–that system is called divorce. I don’t want that. I would rather have him grow up.

You can tell him that, while you guys are in marriage counseling, you are going to build up a savings account because in case this ends up in divorce, you don't want to be broke. Everything else is together, but tell him that the account is over there and that you are putting it over there because you don't trust him. Until he engages in a situation that makes him worthy of trust, a process that is trustworthy, then you have to continue to do this. Talk to your counselor about that and say that's what you're doing.

That’s the only thing I know to tell you. You have to go to the bottom of this and root out the real problem, which is the immaturity, the selfishness and the lying. There is not a system in personal finance that solves that. Marriage counseling is the answer.

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