Most would agree that dishonesty is a no-no in life, and especially in a relationship. So what topic tempts married couples to lie more than any other? Money. A recent AARP study found that a whopping one-third of married people ages 18-49 have hidden purchases from their spouse, and that 7% even maintain a secret bank account! Interestingly, older survey respondents were far less likely to lie to their mate about money.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. But one weakness you cannot afford in a marriage relationship is a tendency to be deceptive or dishonest. Even in the little things, dishonesty will undermine your marriage. Here’s why:
- It’s a slippery slope. If you fudge the truth on something seemingly harmless (like whether you stuck to your diet today at lunch), you’ll be very uncomfortable—the first time. The second time you do it will be easier. Pretty soon you’ll graduate up to lies about things of greater consequence, and will realize—hopefully to your horror—that you’ve become quite good at it. Then there’s the whole mess of having to lie to cover your tracks on a previous indiscretion: you spent $300 on some must-have boots, but told your husband they were marked “way down.” Now you have to find a way to explain why you don’t have the money to pay the auto insurance premium, even though you should. It’s just not worth it.
- It destroys trust. Once your spouse learns that you’ve been dishonest with him—whether the issue was big or small—he’ll have a harder time taking you at your word. Even if he forgives the dishonesty, it will be more difficult for him to trust you with the things he values. It can be like a cloud of uneasiness and tension hanging over your relationship until that trust is restored.
- It sets a horrible example. You may think your children are oblivious to the finer nuances of your marriage, but they’re far more observant than you realize. They’ll hear you telling your best friend one version of events on the phone, but telling your spouse another version. Even if they never speak up and expose you, the damage done to your credibility with them is severe.
- It undermines your family goals. If you’ve agreed together on a set of goals and a plan for achieving them, but you insist on going your own way under the radar, don’t be surprised if your family doesn’t wind up where you intended. If you quietly subvert your agreed-upon financial plan, you derail your family’s chances of meeting important money goals like saving for college or getting out of debt. If you sneak around letting your child break rules that you and your husband agreed upon as a parenting team, don’t be surprised when it leads to unwanted outcomes for your child. You know what they say about a house divided.
The bottom line: doing life together can be hard. There are complicated kids to raise in an ever-changing world, bills to pay, jobs that we don’t always love, and unexpected surprises along the way—some good, some bad. You can survive it all—if you can count on one another. Give your marriage the opportunity to thrive by being transparent and trustworthy with your mate.