I wrote recently about a 50-something wife and mother who committed suicide the day her house foreclosed.
Fast forward to a CNN article about men and women who cheat on each other with their checkbooks.
“Call it secret spending, checkbook cheating or financial infidelity -- plenty of Americans are guilty of it.
Twenty nine percent of people in a committed relationship admitted to lying to their partner about their spending habits, according to a Harris Interactive survey of 1,796 people ages 25-55.
Kathy Kitts, a 50-year-old brain development specialist from Germantown, Maryland, says she became a "secret shopper" when she had a part-time job at a clothing store four years ago.
"I would buy stuff and bring it home all the time, although I wouldn't necessarily bring it straight home," she says. "It would end up in the trunk of my car for a while and then in my closet."
Kitts' secret spending habits are fairly typical, says Tina B. Tessina, a Long Beach, California, psychotherapist and author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage."
"Women tend to buy clothes, make-up and personal indulgences like pedicures, while men tend to hide big-ticket items," says Tessina. "They spend more on gambling and the stock market and fantasy football and porn. They don't hide their spending in the closet; they hide it on the computer."
Financial cheating can lead to divorce and often does.
“Theo Pauline Nestor, a 46-year-old writer, teacher and mother of two from Seattle, found out her husband was surreptitiously using credit cards to fund a gambling habit that she said eventually cost the couple their marriage.
"He had seven credit cards in his name that were being sent to a different address," says Nestor, who detailed her experiences in the memoir, "How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed." "I had a feeling something was wrong but I pushed it down. Now I tell people to trust their gut, to start asking questions and snooping around."
Tessina estimates 25 percent of the couples she sees for overspending are grappling with
addiction issues, which can often cause a person's life to spin out of control.
"Addiction begins to adversely affect your life," she says. "Your spouse leaves you but you still keep doing it."
Normal spending sprees are much more common -- and much less devastating -- although they can still cause problems in a marriage.
"If you find your spouse has been sneaking around on you -- and that's what this is -- that messes up your trust," she says. "Your marriage is really a business and if a spouse is secretly spending, that's undermining it a really serious way. It's like they're embezzling."
Do you ever hide purchases on your husband/partner? Do you think he does? How would you cope with this kind of ‘cheating’ and how do you think it would affect your relationship?
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