Financial Infidelity, How To Tell Your Spouse


Financial Infidelity, How to tell your spouse

What to do when you've run up a debt behind your spouse's back.


Dear Kim,

I am so embarrassed.  Last year, my husband had been let go from his job of 20 years. It had been a shock when the business abruptly closed. He was able to collect unemployment, but it was not enough to make ends meet. I work a full time job and we have 3 kids all under the age of 12. He was so stressed looking for work, that I started handling our finances. I started using credit cards to just try to make up the difference in the loss of his salary, but before long I became more dependent on them. We currently have $45,000 in credit card debt. I have not told my husband. He has found work, but it pays considerably less than his former employment. The debt is out of control, and he is going to be devastated when he finds out. Is there a way to pay this off and not tell him?



Dear Ramona,

I am sorry to hear that times have been tough for you and your family. I am going to give you some tips on how to deal with this situation.

  • You should stop using the credit cards. By continuing this trend, you are only getting in deeper in debt.
  • The conversation with your husband is inevitable. Choose a place where you are comfortable and bring your most recent bills. Avoid bringing a huge pile of paper, as that may be overwhelming for your spouse. Prepare for your husband to have a series of emotions. There is a term, financial infidelity, which is when a couple co-mingles their finances and hides information to the other about money. Financial infidelity can be detrimental to a marriage.
  • Your family needs a spending plan. You both should look at the entire financial picture and decide what is most important and what can be sacrificed to repay the outstanding debt.
  • Set a date each month to pay bills and evaluate your spending plan together. Keep the lines of communication open, so that neither of you feel the need to deceive the other about spending and debt. Remember that you are team and you cannot do this on your own.
  • Lastly you need a repayment plan. Your family has taken significant financial hits over the last year. This is where I feel you need professional intervention. A credit counselor will analyze your spending plan, review your current debt situation and provide you with the solutions necessary to overcome your financial trouble. Please call a certified credit counselor at 1-800-992-4557 for a session.  You will be provided an action plan that will help you move forward.

Good Luck!

Kim headshot 3

Kim Cole is the Community Engagement Manager for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month's edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.

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