Would you keep financial problems a secret from your significant other?

In these tough economic times, it seems as if married couples would benefit from maintaining an open and honest dialogue concerning the state of their financial affairs. In fact, the harboring of financial secrets could result in a serious disagreement and perhaps even a divorce if the situation proved dire enough.

Remarkably, a recent online survey of more than 1,400 people by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) reveals that nearly 25 percent of married people would still choose to keep a financial secret from their significant other.

According to the NFCC study,

  • 76 percent of respondents would tell their spouse of any financial problems
  • 9 percent of respondents would not tell their spouse of any financial problems because it would cause the spouse worry
  • 8 percent of respondents would not tell their spouse of any financial problems because the spouse is unaware of the debt/financial problem
  • 7 percent of respondents would not tell their spouse of any financial problems because they fear it would endanger the relationship

“Even if well-intentioned, withholding financial information from a spouse is not a sign of a healthy relationship, either emotional or financial,” said Gail Cunningham, an NFCC spokesperson. “It is encouraging [however] that the majority, 76 percent, would share the information with their spouse so that they could work together to resolve the situation.”

Interestingly, the NFCC has offered a comprehensive list of Do’s and Don’ts for married couples to consider when sitting down to discuss financial matters.

Here are some of the more notable points offered by the NFCC:

  • Maintain absolute honesty concerning both income and debt, and avoid committing so-called “financial infidelity”
  • Show respect for one another, try to be constructive and avoid assigning blame
  • Take the time to learn more about one another’s views concerning spending, saving, etc.
  • Be willing to entertain the notion of making adjustments to your spending habits or making a new budget

What are your views on these suggestions? Are there ever any circumstances in which a spouse can keep financial information a secret? How do you and your spouse approach this issue?

To learn more about divorce, property division or other important family law issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), “One in four Americans would not inform spouse of financial difficulties” Oct. 2011