Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spending & Hiding: Secrets Kept From Your Significant Other

One of the most common problems that couples have relates to money. Couples have probably fought over money issues since the beginning of time, and 2008 is no exception. Many of the problems couples have around money relate to what each member of the couple spends money on.

For many couples, they share joint bank accounts and have no individual money to call their own. For these couples, good communication is critical because all the money is shared jointly. In other words, if one member of the couple chooses to drop a couple hundred dollars on clothing, it impacts the other member of the couple – they’re pulling from the same account.

Serious problems often emerge when one member of the couple has a gambling problem or a compulsive spending habit. Another problem that couples present is that one or both members of the couple, at times, hide some of their spending from their significant other. As a rule, you can’t have a truly functional relationship unless you have an open, honest line of communication – and there’s no exception when it comes to money.

What happens with some couples is that one person gets upset as a result of something the other does, and one who is upset often acts out through spending. It’s almost as if he or she feels deserving of the spending because of what the other member of the couple did. This is only a half-step away from a twisted teenage game. Because we’re adults, we must learn to confront issues when they arise in our relationships.

If you are someone who, at times, hides your spending from your significant other, I encourage you to think about how he or she would feel to know what’s going on. Also, as a rule of thumb, I think it’s realistic to think that if you’re doing something, your significant other could very well be doing it, too. This does not make it okay for you to continue spending and hiding in the future, though it does suggest that it’s time to put your behavior on notice.

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