Our Money, My Secrets: Why Married Individuals Commit Financial Infidelity

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Child and Family Studies


The focus of this exploratory study was to identify reasons why married individuals commit financial infidelity. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to identify types of financial infidelity and other deceitful behaviors that occur in married relationships. This research also focused on establishing categories for conflict in the home and other secret information aside from financial infidelity. In addition to quantitative responses, a content analysis of open-ended survey questions was used to identify and code categories and themes in the written data (Strauss and Corbin in Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and techniques, Sage, Newbury Park 1990). Two primary categories emerged that identify why married individuals commit financial infidelity: avoiding an argument and spending on self. In addition to the 10 categories of financial conflict published in Jeanfreau et al. (J Financ Ther 9(1):1–20, 2018), two additional categories emerged from the qualitative data: other debt and recreational purchases. Three categories and ten themes of secret information included: gone somewhere (food and friends, routine events, adult time), spent time with someone (work friends, friends, exes/affair partners), and additional secrets (not keeping secrets, health related information, ending the relationship, information related to exes or affair partners). Aside from financial issues, participants reported four categories of issues that caused the most conflict: time together, communication, health related issues, and extended family problems. Finally, the majority of participants reported sharing financial decisions with his or her spouse, having joint bank accounts and sharing expenses, and paying bills collaboratively. Findings highlight the need for marriage and family therapists to address healthy communication practices regarding finances and money management.

Publication Title

Contemporary Family Therapy

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