Financial infidelity can breed mistrust. Here’s how to come clean.


Welcome back to Uncomfortable Conversations About Money, a new series where we will tackle topics or situations around money that make you uneasy. We’ll outline the problem and try to get you some usable solutions.   

The dilemma: 

A wife with a habit of buying – and hiding – expensive shoes from her husband. 

A husband with a secret online gambling addiction. 

A partner racking up credit card debt for purchases the other partner doesn’t know about. 

These are all examples of financial infidelity. 

But what is financial infidelity? 

“At its core, financial infidelity is a breach of trust around what you’re doing or not doing with money,” said Ed Coambs, a financial therapist. 

“When we’re in financial infidelity, we’re doing it because we’re either trying to protect ourselves from feeling some relational pain or from them experiencing or me evoking something inside of them that’s uncomfortable,” he said. 

Are you keeping secrets about finances? That's financial infidelity.

Coambs is the past president of the Financial Therapy Association, an organization of professionals with combined therapy and financial planning expertise. He’s also the author of “The Healthy Love & Money Way,” and hosts a podcast called “Healthy Love and Money.” 

Financial infidelity can violate any type of relationship, including a spouse or partner, sibling, parent, friend, employer, or – “here’s the real kicker, against yourself,” Coambs said.  


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