For Richer, For Poorer?

For Richer, For Poorer?

Do you hide a secret stash of money away, unknown to your spouse?  Or understate the amount that you spent on your credit card?  Well, there’s a term for that: Financial Infidelity.   It’s to describe any secretive act of spending, holding money or even incurring debt, with the intent to hide it from one’s partner or spouse.

I’ve come across that term from a book sometime back but only recalled it recently when I read a small but interesting news report.  The report spoke of a lucky man from Taiwan who won NT3 million in prize money, but specifically asked that the lottery company keep his win a secret from his wife!  The company went on to add that this was not an isolated case.  There had been seven winners, including women, who had asked to do the same. They’re just the exceptions, I thought at first.  But later, on reflection, I realized that this is indeed a sad but true fact of life for quite a number of couples I know, albeit on a much smaller scale…

There was this friend who shared how she had sold some wedding jewellery and decided to keep the cash in a secret stash.  Yet another was bemoaning how tough but necessary it was to under-declare to her husband the amount she spent on a particular high-ticket item.   What really puzzles me sometimes is why they could confess their doings to us mere friends or acquaintances, yet found it difficult to face their significant others?

And this is happening not just among females. In Shanghai where we used to stay, it is a tradition for wives to hold the purse strings with full access to their spouses’ accounts.  In some companies, some male workers would request that their bonuses be paid in cash and not through their usual bank accounts, so that their wives could not find out.  One way to circumvent the family CFO!

There are many reasons for financial infidelity: an overly-stingy spouse, a spouse who nags too much or “my mother kept a stash away too”.  Under certain rare instances, I suppose, the reasons could be valid.   However, I am personally strongly against it.  It may start small but small things do add up, leading to an erosion of trust and confidence in each other.

In the States, financial infidelity is reported to be a rising trend and the cause for 16 per cent of divorces. Luckily, there are ready experts who have written great books on how to deal with this already.  If you’ve the time and the interest, do zoom in on the following books, which I have handpicked  – from where else… our trusty library of course:
1)   Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the the #1 Relationship Wrecker, by Bonnie Eaker Weil
2)   Financial Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Merging Money Styles and Building a Rich Life Together, by Bambi Holzer
3)   Financially Ever After: The Couples’ Guide to Managing Money, by Jeff D. Opdyke
4)   Women, Men & Money: The Four Keys to Using Money to Nourish Your Relationship, Bankbook and Soul, by William Francis Devine, Jr.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say my marriage has not only enriched me spiritually, mentally but financially as well.  My conclusion: marriage and money can and should mix.  I am no expert on how to help couples sort out their financial issues and problems but can only share the following “quote” from which the heading for this blog entry came from:

I take you to be my lawfully wedded spouse, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

I sincerely wish you a financially blissful marriage!

(This article first appeared in CPF IM$avvy Bloggers' Corner.)


  1. With many dual income family nowadays, I guess the "problem" of financial infidelity might not be that serious in Singapore.. This is just my personal view

    1. Hi Richard
      Thanks for dropping by. I am really not sure about Singapore's trends. This is just based on anecdotal evidence. I personally know dual income couples who hide their own spending or income from their spouse and deliberately so. Often, it seems there is a lack of "trust" perhaps?

  2. My wife and I keep separate bank accounts. I know of a few friends who have their paycheck GIRO into their wives' accounts. I am not sure if it is true that men tend to stray when they have lots of money, much more than they already need.

  3. Hi Financialray, Sorry I took so long to reply. My husband and I are completely transparent about our finances. Everyone finds a style that suits them. I think the word "infidelity" here may give the wrong impression of "straying" (aka having an affair) but really, "financial infidelity" is to do with lying deliberately about income and expenses…so it's being "unfaithful" to each other in terms of financial obligations. As for the correlation between wealth and straying, I think it's one of the factors but possibly many many other factors are at play too. Great having you visit my blog. Appreciate it!

  4. Hi YP. Words of wisdom indeed! Rules of 'engagement' needs to be established early on in a relationship, especially one headed towards the 'till death do us part' path. For myself and my other half, we practice complete transparency, respecting each other's spending on personal interests - his on his games and jerseys, me on my occasional weakness for shoes! But big ticket items are always discussed. TRUST is the bedrock of not just marriage, but any other type of relationship that needs nurturing. :-) This is the first article of yours I've read, but I'll be reading all the rest in time to come. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hello Hannah…Sorry I took so long to publish this comment. Didn't realize it was sitting there in my draft box waiting for my moderation. You are the first person I know "personally" reading this blog. Just a blog to of my own highly personal viewpoints, i.e. anyone can agree or disagree. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Hi YP,

    Nice blog you have there and it's good to hear things from the woman's perspective (sorely lacking locally).

    I have always been intrigued by this "financial infidelity" thingy. My wife and I always get puzzled stares when we tell people that we track expenses together and know/have access to each other's bank accounts. We also sometimes help to open each other's letters too. =)

    Sometimes, I really wonder if people like you and your hubby and us are oddballs. LOL.

  6. Hi 15HWW,

    Thanks for your comment! I am not surprised at all too that all comments (except one from someone I know personally) are from men too! Women don't seem to like to talk about money.

    So glad to know another "oddball" couple who keep everything transparent. Tell you the truth - I open all the letters and have access to all our money. My husband always jokes that he doesn't even see the money he makes every month. It's great, isn't it, to have someone with similar values embark on this financial journey with you. The journey itself is so much more fun than the destination.

    Thanks for dropping by!



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