In a 2017 survey, approximately one in 20 respondents admitted to obtaining a credit card or opening a bank account that they kept secret from their spouse. If the results are applicable to the general population, approximately 12 million Americans may have committed “financial infidelity” of this nature.

Depending on the amount of secret spending or saving that goes on and the spouse’s motivation for it, it may not represent a problem in a relationship by itself. However, it may be a symptom of a deeper issue that could threaten the existence of the relationship.

Why do spouses hide money?

Sometimes a spouse has nefarious motives for hiding money. He or she is trying to get the better of a significant other or punish him or her in some way. However, other people have good, or at least sympathetic, reasons for hiding money. For example, some people set aside money in secret to be sure there is enough to meet monthly obligations because the significant other has a gambling addiction or poor spending habits.

However, even if the intentions are good, hiding money from one’s spouse can backfire. The profligate spouse may spend the money anyway if he or she happens to discover it.

What does hiding money indicate about a relationship?

If one spouse feels that he or she has to hide money from a significant other, it can indicate a lack of trust between spouses and/or a breakdown in communication, specifically about family finances. These are both deep issues that could damage, and ultimately destroy, a relationship if not resolved.