Although the skeletons inside of most of our closets aren't mountains of bills, it’s not uncommon for people to discover that their significant others have been hiding debt from them.
To be perfectly frank, if you just began dating someone, then your partner's debt profile is none of your business.
But, when people are in it for the long-term, hiding debt could indicate a serious issue. Although they should try to understand their loved one's motivations, empathy does--and should--have its limits. In many states, any debt incurred during a marriage is a joint responsibility, even if the account is only in one person’s name. Imagine if your spouse racked up a bunch of debt behind your back—and then your credit score suffered!
Even for unmarried couples, debt and financial lies can derail plans for a shared future (especially if one party thinks that they’re a more financially solvent couple than they are.)
So, How Do People Even Know When Their Partners Are Hiding Debt?
This constitutes financial infidelity—and usually people find out the same way that they find out about romantic infidelity. Often, one party discovers debt when the other one is acting secretive or plain guilty. If the couple is living together, it’s hard not to notice if one person is hiding bills, intercepting mail, or screening calls from collectors. Another dead giveaway: random purchases around the house that you didn’t know anything about.
Financial Infidelity: How Would You React?
If you’d normally kick your partner out of the house for cheating on you, how would you react to financial infidelity? Same as if you caught your significant other sneaking around with someone else, you’d probably sit him down for a talk. (Unless you simply threw a book at him and stormed out! …But then we hope you’d talk.) A lot of couples who face this issue start the discussion by sharing copies of their credit reports, which lays all the cards on the table. From there, it’s all about uncovering why one partner didn’t feel like he could open up about his financial problems.
There Are A Few Ways That People Move Forward.
Between asking the delinquent partner to sell what he bought, going to credit counseling, and making sacrifices in spending to pay off the debt, there’s a lot that people can do for damage control. But, one of the biggest hurdles that people find is fixing the relationship. Some of the most successful couples we know have reacted by scheduling regular talks about money, sharing in money management by paying bills together, and reviewing credit reports together at least once per year.
So, here’s the real question: What would YOU do if you caught your partner in financial infidelity?