Financial adultery: Why spouses hide the truth about money and how to stop the lies

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  • Janet Ontario, OR
    April 19, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    For Baby Boomers, the problem is often children who get themselves into trouble financially then need help from Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad don't agree on if or how much they can afford to help, so one is siphoning off money without telling the other. This is especially poisonous to a second marriage. Another problem for elderly folks (I hear, thankfully haven't experienced) is gambling. Senior trips to casinos, online gaming, and so forth are hazardous to life's savings, as are the out-and-out scams that target seniors. Young people have the acquisition bug, but at any age, one needs to avoid secretiveness between spouses!

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 19, 2012 6:52 a.m.

    My mother had a friend who ran up over $40,000 in credit card debt and was always afraid her husband was going to find out. When a spendthrift marries a financially conservative person, this is quite likely. The spend thrift is unconfortable spending in front of their spouse, so they do it behind their back.

    One solution is for spendthrifts to marry other spendthrifts and responsible people to marry other responsible people. One problem with this is however is if spend thrifts marry others like themselves, there isn't anyone to restrain them.

    My sister, a spend thrift married another spendthrift. She was $15,000 in credit card debt when she married and her husband who was $19,000 in credit card debt. I tried to talk to them about financial responsibility, but they wouldn't listen. After they got married, they took a foreign vacation financed by credit card. Within 3 years of being married they were $65,000 in debt.

    Best advice I can offer, is if you are financially responsible, marry someone of like mind or be prepared to pay the consequences.

  • donburi South Jordan, UT
    April 18, 2012 5:06 p.m.


    I think the nuance of adultery is some form of lying/cheating between spouses. You can lie/cheat with finances, but not with clutter.

  • bluebullet94 ,
    April 18, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    I spent the first 10 years of my marriage striving for financial riches and after barely avoiding bankruptcy during the last year, losing my dream home and being severely humbled, I've come to the realization that prosperity is having what you need (family, security, etc), not necessarily what you want. I still plan to achieve financial freedom, but this time around I'm doing it without credit and debt. Luckily my wife and I were both fully involved in all decision making so going through all of this has only made our marriage stronger because we endured it together.

    And to those that think that spending behind a spouse's back is not financial adultery, then they've never had personal or family experience to understand it. My parent's were torn apart because of financial adultery (refinance of the primary home to pay back taxes without the other spouse knowing, loan sharks, gambling and horrible mistakes including racking up $200k in debt that the other spouse didn't even know about) so please understand that it is very real.

  • Sequoya Stafford, VA
    April 16, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    I also think "adultery" is too strong a term, especially since it reflects a trend in calling any social anomally between married couples "adultery." That isn't to say that the problems cited here should not be overcome; they obviously should. But we've also taken to calling any kind of close work relationship "adultery" even where nothing physical has occurred; spending too much time with the gang is a form of adultery, and so on.

    We have a problem with clutter at our place. Is that "clutter adultery?" (After all, somebody is being deprived of living space and order, etc...) Again, the problems need to be addressed; but we should lighten up on the rhetoric. Let's beware of semantic fads as with all others!!

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    April 10, 2012 6:08 p.m.

    "Financial Adultery"???? That's a pretty strong word for it, don't you think?

  • David C Seattle, WA
    April 10, 2012 5:46 p.m.


    I think Elder Ballard was trying to say that as families break down, more kids are raised in environments that will make it very hard for them to find prosperity. I have known a lot of people I would call prosperous despite making comparatively little money. They provided for their families and gave their kids a loving home where their real needs were met.

    Likewise I have known people that made much money, but their personal lives were a wreck. I wouldn't call those folks prosperous.

    How rich people keep their money all in the family has little to do with prosperity. In fact, "rich" and "prosperous" seldom describe the same people. The peace and contentment of having a loving home is as much a part of prosperity as being able to provide for yourself. Kids that grow up in a loving home with committed parents are simply more likely to learn the traits needed for real prosperity.

    The prosperity gospel is vile inasmuch as it equates income with righteousness. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." 1Tim: 6:9

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    April 10, 2012 12:46 p.m.


    My comments were tongue in cheek.

    If you followed Elder Ballard's talk, he gave his support for what is referred to in the evangelical world as "prosperity theology," or the "prosperity gospel," which is the belief that wealth and power are God's rewards for pious Christians. I'm not sure how much he truly believes it, but it's a convenient way for a wealthy person or someone in high position to claim spiritual superiority.

    Certainly, college education, hard work, commitment, etc are all solid traits necessary for anyone to succeed.

    However, I also know full well that the most prosperous families preserve and add to their wealth and opportunities by having their children confine their dating to members of other wealthy, successful, and prosperous families. That isn't rocket science. Nor is it "righteousness". It's simply a tactic. And if you do a little research into Elder Ballard's family, you'll find close connections with very prosperous families.

  • Erika Salem, Utah
    April 10, 2012 12:43 p.m.

    I totally agree with this article -- money isn't just money when it's hard to talk about. Something is being left unsaid, maybe even unrecognized. As adults, we are frequently NOT emotionally mature and have to learn by degrees how to become so. Money disputes can hide a lot of emotional garbage neither party may even recognize or acknowledge in themselves, so communication is truly the key. In the process of learning to verbally identify the real issues, we can actually address them together. (Scary sometimes, but necessary.)

  • Michael De Groote
    April 10, 2012 11:56 a.m.

    Caprice wrote: "What a great article. Thank you for the brilliant insights."

    Atheist wrote: "I have to say this article is worthless. I disagree with almost everything in it"

    These comments on my article made me think of what J. K. Rowling said when she finished one of the Harry Potter books: "It might be rubbish. Some people will loathe it. They'll absolutely loathe it. But that is as it should be. Because for some people to love it, others must loathe it."

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    April 10, 2012 10:44 a.m.

    @ Maple
    "The part that Elder Ballard should have shared is that prosperity always comes when your children marry into prominent and wealthy families" you have to marry for money in order attain prosperity?...unbelievable!

    How about prosperity thru your own hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that's the American Dream. All we need is an opportunity so we can create our own destiny. Like luv2organize, I'm a Dave Ramsey Fan and his philosophy is spot on.

    Like everything else in life, unless you want to change your habits, no one even God will not be able to change you. It does not matter how many books, CDs, or experts you want to read up on the subject, the key is YOU!

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    April 10, 2012 10:34 a.m.

    Been married for almost thirty years, and I have to say this article is worthless. I disagree with almost everything in it, beginning with the idea that couples should merge their finances and accounts.

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    April 10, 2012 9:42 a.m.

    Some of these people don't realize the message that Elder Ballard shared at conference--that prosperity sometimes follows righteousness. The part that Elder Ballard should have shared is that prosperity always comes when your children marry into prominent and wealthy families. The rest of us have to struggle and, hopefully, finally figure out that the "prosperity follows righteousness" theology is unsound doctrinally.

  • luv2organize Gainesville, VA
    April 10, 2012 7:43 a.m.

    The very end of the article touched on budgeting but in my opinion that should be the biggest part! If you budget and know where every dollar is going and every dollar that is coming in then communication lines are open. Plus, you can save for the bike or other "toy" the that you may want. What this article didn't state is that probably most of these problems come from people being over extended and in major debt. Clearly when your finances are in control there isn't a need for deceit. People need direction. I for one am a huge Dave Ramsey follower as he simplifies money - have an emergency fund, pay off debt, never use credit cards, save for retirement, etc. It's pretty simple and straight forward. If we were all grown ups and mature a lot of these money issues wouldn't be issues.

  • Caprice PROVIDENCE, UT
    April 9, 2012 10:47 p.m.

    What a great article. Thank you for the brilliant insights.