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Financial infidelity or sexual infidelity: which is worse?

9 July 2009 28 Comments

For many people sexual infidelity is the ultimate betrayal.  Financial infidelity or cheating with money– in which one spouse spends the couples’ joint money without telling the other– is every bit as dishonest.  You are being betrayed through money.   Many therapists and lawyers observe it is even more difficult to recover from financial infidelity than sexual infidelity.   Your spouse is spending money that also belongs to you.  The challenge to restore your trust is every bit as difficult as it is with sexual infidelity. You also are faced with loss of the money you thought you could count on.  With gambling and other addictions like drinking, drugs, and compulsive shopping the money you thought you had for retirement may have been spent! Your whole life changes and not for the better.


  • Financial Infidelity: Is Your Marriage at Risk? - CBS said:

    […] racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt can be a marriage killer for some couples, warns Dr. Doug Welpton, a Clearwater, Fla. based psychiatrist and family […]

  • Ruth Houston said:

    Financial Infidelity can take many forms. It can range from harmless financial fibbing like lying about how much you spent for a purchase, to serious financial deception like keeping a secret bank account, or major misrepresentation of your financial status. Are you – or your spouse — guilty of financial infidelity? Take the Financial Infidelity Quiz at to find out.
    Sometimes financial infidelity can even be a sign of sexual infidelity. More about that at

  • Dana said:

    My husband has committed many different forms of financial infidelity throughout our 24 years of marriage. I’ve stayed because of the kids and his “promise…this is the last time”. I’ve had enough. But my question is, how do you find out if your spouse has a secret bank account? I suspect it, but can not find any records of this (like I did the other signs). Is there a way to track down a secret bank account?

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    I recommend you connect with Ruth Houston, who specializes in all the different ways spouses commit financial infidelity. Her website is linked to this website. One link to Ruth is: Take the Financial Infidelity Quiz at to find out. I hope this will help you. I would appreciate knowing what you find out about discovering secret bank accounts. Thank you, Dr. Doug

  • Secret Credit Cards and Other Marriage Breakers - CBS said:

    […] According to the survey, 18% of participants are guilty of this sin. Last summer, I interviewed Dr. Doug Welpton, a Clearwater, Fla. based psychiatrist and family therapist, about financial infidelity. At the […]

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    I agree with you that spouses are forgiving and that honesty is worth the risk. Spouses are more forgiving when you take complete responsibility for your wrong doing, as in hiding purchases or credit card debts. Without trust over money marriages are compromised and become less committed if they last. Dr. Doug

  • Lorraine said:

    I think that financial infidelity is worse than sexual infidelity. My husband committed both and I had forgiven him for most of his actions. However he had piddled away our life savings and in doing so we had accrued a significant amount of credit card debt. We had to contact a Consolidation Credit Counseling company. It became too much to handle and I didn’t want to file for bankruptcy knowing we were going to have to put our kids through college soon. He really set us back and I can’t forgive him for that.

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    The downside of not forgiving your husband is that you hold onto the anger and resentment, and it affects you, your body and nervous system. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the cord of anger and resentment that bonds you to the person who hurt you, in this case your husband. To maintain daily resentment and anger costs you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. You continue to hold your husband accountable for his actions and are aware he could repeat his infidelities, especially if he has not made an amends that includes a commitment to change his ways.

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    Hi Lorraine,
    The problem with not forgiving your husband is that you will remain attached to him through the cord of resentment that binds you by remaining angry and resentful.
    Forgiving him is for you, to release you from the resentment that otherwise keeps you bound to him and his irresponsible behavior with your finances.
    Release yourself and go on. Make the best financial plans you can for putting your kids through college. Your husband needs to be accountable to you and your children for the problems he has created for helping them with college.

  • Debt Management said:

    The truth is sadly, that they are both important. Yet, at the same time I don’t think it should take anybody by surprise. If you look how we are biologically engineered as humans, we value stability as a staple of our needs hierarchy. Financial stability is the instinct of maintenance and comfort while sexual stability covers reproduction. In a relationship, these are both critical elements. I’ve seen both personally – and they are a lot more related than most would bear credit for.

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    サマンサ バック

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    Can you comment in English?
    Thank you,
    Dr. Doug

  • Jane said:

    My husband of 27 years lied to me for years about spending our entire savings to float his business. He used up our entire Home Equity Loan, used up all of our retirement money, all of our savings and 401K, maxed out all of our credit cards, etc. I only found out because I pretended to be him when the bank called. He managed to set things up so all correspondence went to his office. He lied about us having a retirement account right up till the end. He considers himself a Christian and a “good” husband. I’m stuck in a marriage with someone I hate and someone I don’t trust because there isn’t any money for me to leave, I don’t have a job (or any job skills), and I have a daughter to take care of. He is the best liar and cheat I’ve ever met.

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    Hi Jane,
    Your story is very painful. You help us see how devastating financial infidelity can be. It can be more destructive than sexual infidelity because it not only destroys your trust of your spouse, but you are robbed of the financial assets you need to build a new life.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.
    My prayers and best wishes are with you and your daughter,
    Dr. Doug

  • Chris said:

    …..I do not know if this is considered financial infidelity but here is where I am at: My wife has four children from previous marriages, all fully grown. We have had a lot of financial issues like paying our rent late and the same with our utility bills (And two of her kids have financial issues as well). I am currently unemployed and my wife is a notary. She has told me that her lack of income was the result of lack of business. I have been very suspicious of her all along. Last week……without her knowledge, I managed to access her bank account statements and have founded out that she has given over $9000.00 to her two kids and in the past twelve months (In addition – she has another bank account and her son has an ATM card to access the funds) – I was very shocked and I really do not know what to do. – I am thinking of just ending our marriage

  • drwelpton (author) said:

    Dear Chris,
    Yes, what you are describing is an example of financial infidelity.
    Cheating with money is very painful, as you make clear. Cheating with money or with sex destroys trust, causing us to feel not just hurt and angry, but the loss of the foundation of our marriage. I do understand why you feel like ending your marriage. I recommend, however, that you give your wife the opportunity to explain what she is doing.
    If what your wife explains she has done with her money makes any sense to you, even if you don’t agree with it, you may have a basis for working to rebuild your marriage. Often in marriage we don’t see things the same way nor do we do things the same way. Many marriages, for example, occur between a saver and a spender. When I, a saver, could understand how my wife’s spending brought joy and celebrations to our marriage that I otherwise would have missed, I had greater acceptance of her spending and how it enhanced our relationship.
    Ultimately the decision to divorce is up to you. Divorce is a painful process, costly not just to you and your wife, but to the children and all the other members of both your families. It is not a decision to make in haste. It won’t end your feelings of betrayal and it won’t end the pain of your losses–trust and love as well as money. I encourage you to take as much time as necessary to talk and share with your wife all your feelings and be open to listening to hers as well.
    A crisis can be an opportunity. At times it is a crisis which allows us to rebuild our marriages into a stronger connection.
    My very best wishes to you,
    Dr. Doug

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  • drwelpton (author) said:

    I had a professional, Chris Eggleston, create my website (blogsite) and continue to keep it updated every few months. With Word Press I can manage posting all my writings. I wish you well with your blogsite, Dr. Doug

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