How to tell the truth after lying to your partner about money

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  • A study shows that 27% of people have committed financial infidelity, the act of lying to their partner about money.
  • It’s never too late to tell your partner the truth, but it’s important to set realistic expectations.
  • Before you talk to your partner, have a plan in place so you don’t repeat the same behavior.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

A 2018 study on financial infidelity from the University of Southern Mississippi shows that 27% of people in partnerships have lied to their partner about money.

The most common lies about money range from petty indiscretions, like lying about how many times you’ve been to Starbucks this week, to bigger issues, like hiding a gambling addiction or filing for bankruptcy behind someone’s back. your partner. Lies about money can also start small and then snowball into bigger problems down the line, especially when loans and credit cards are involved.

If you’re brave enough to come clean with your partner about your financial infidelity, here are some things to keep in mind, according to Megan McCoy, Ph.D., LMFT, AFC, CFT-I.

1. Give your partner space to be crazy

“It takes so much emotional energy to tell your partner what you did wrong, so you spend all that energy preparing yourself to tell the truth,” McCoy explains. Sometimes the partner who lied about money deserves immediate forgiveness just because it took so much effort to tell the truth.

Realistically, McCoy says your partner will likely be angry, hurt, or a combination of the two, and it’s important to give them space to feel that. To be clear, abusive behaviors like yelling, name-calling, or violence aren’t the right size reactions when a partner reveals their spending habits. However, your partner may want to take some alone time or tell you why they’re upset, which isn’t always pleasant.

2. Have a clear plan on how to be honest in the future

Without a direct plan for how to move forward, your excuses are meaningless. McCoy says the next step after admitting what you did wrong is to explain to your partner how you’re going to do things differently in the future.

For example, if you’re overspending on groceries and plan to tell your partner the truth, McCoy suggests calling your partner at checkout to stay accountable. You can also write down a budget for what you want to spend on a shopping trip and then show your receipts to your partner.

3. Keep having healthy conversations about money

For bigger issues like keeping a secret bank account or managing big debts that have snowballed with compound interest, McCoy says it might take longer to heal. If you want things to work out, you and your partner need to be ready to have healthy, ongoing conversations about money.

It may be best to see a financial therapist regularly, if you can afford it. You can also set a time for you and your partner to review your finances together once a month to make sure you don’t fall into the same patterns.

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