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Are You Committing Financial Infidelity?

First Posted: 10/10/11 04:52 PM ET Updated: 12/10/11 05:12 AM ET

One in four married people in the U.S. would not tell their spouse if they were experiencing financial difficulties, according to a recent poll of 1,400 respondents conducted by The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in September.

The top reasons for withholding the truth? The fear that it would worry the spouse (nine percent), the fact that the spouse was previously unaware of the debt (eight percent) and that it would damage the relationship (seven percent), according to the data. While wanting to minimize the conflict in your relationship is understandable, is so-called “financial infidelity” the answer?

A study by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University found that disputes about finances were the best predictor of divorce.

The key to avoiding that outcome is to be open and honest about your financial problems, according to psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz in an interview with CNN’s Christine Romans.

"Money represents power ... it’s about who has control in relationship," Saltz said, adding that how we deal with money usually comes from how our own families dealt with it while we are growing up -- all the more reason to handle the issue with care. She’s seen couples hide bankruptcy from a spouse, tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and even hide children they are providing for. Saltz stressed that people need to realize how irrational it is to hide financial information from your partner -- it really can end a marriage (and divorce isn’t cheap!)

WATCH Saltz above giving her advice for preventing financial infidelity. And if you’ve just come clean about the skeletons in your bank account, the NFCC offers these next steps for establishing honesty and trust around money in your relationship.

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Filed by Jessica Pearce Rotondi  |