Sex and Money in Marriage

“It’s okay. We just kissed a little. No big deal.” I can’t imagine Mr. T would take that well if it ever came up in a conversation. We know honesty in marriage is important. And we know that cheating is wrong. But somehow, finances get left out of those discussions. Did you know there is a term called “financial infidelity”? Do you know what it means? Secrets. Money and sex are tricky. We like them, but we don’t like talking about them. When we get married, we just expect both to happen without discussing either of them. But there’s one difference: with sex, we know there shouldn’t be any secrets. In money, there isn’t a consensus about secrets. In fact, 33% of people admitted lying to their spouses about finances. And that’s just the people that admitted it!

An estimated 7 million Americans are hiding a secret bank account. Consider that. One day, you get the mail and see a letter addressed to your spouse from a bank you don’t use. You open it up and see a bank statement with, say, $11,000 in an account in your husband’s name. You bring it up with your husband, who says “I’ve had that account since before we got married. I’ve just kept it.” This is a very tame example. There isn’t a lot in the account and he didn’t open it while you were married. He just decided not to tell you about it this whole time. And he hasn’t spent anything from it, so he’s not keeping it for some mistress somewhere. Yay for the extra money! But then again, why did he keep it from you? Does he not trust you? Is it his marriage escape fund? That one decision to keep the bank account a secret has introduced the possibility of other secrets.

That extra, secret bank account increases your collective net worth but diminishes the trust and worth of your relationship. Consider something potentially worse: hidden debt. You get that same letter in the mail, but when you open it up, you find a maxed out credit card statement. Maybe this is only the tip of the iceberg. Instantly, your spouse leads a secret second life that you don’t know and you’ve given up the intimacy of your relationship. A full 70% of people interviewed said they would break up with someone over a hidden debt averaging only $5,000. Are you willing to risk your marriage for one maxed out credit card?

Intimacy means closeness, trust, and knowing each other deeply and completely. “Intimacy” is associated with sex because it takes that level of a relationship for you both to feel comfortable literally stripping down to nothing in front of each other. But intimacy in other aspects of the relationship impacts intimacy in the bedroom. If a financial secret is discovered, the clothes go back on in the relationship. Take off your financial clothes. Being naked means being undisguised, vulnerable, and having nothing to hide. When you got married, you became a team. But if you don’t put everything on the table, your team won’t know what it has and what it’s lacking. If you have debt, you’re probably embarrassed about it. Especially if your spouse has savings. But never think you can take care of it on your own. Keeping secrets leads to trouble, but you’re also denying your relationship the strength that can come from working hard toward something together. Start knowing all the factors and you can work together from there.

Maybe you don’t have hidden bank accounts or hidden debt. But what about your spending? How open are you in your marriage about what you spend money on? 20% of Americans said they have spent $500 or more without telling their spouse. This is not okay. $500 (or more?!) is a lot of money to spend without talking to each other. I recommend having some freedom money for each of you built into the budget to spend as you like. But your finances aren’t going to go anywhere good if you need $500 each for your freedom money. When Mr. T and I first got married, we made every purchase together. We were both in school and had a tight budget without freedom money. I remember walking through the bookstore on campus and seeing a skirt I had my eye on for awhile on major clearance. It was just over $10. I called Mr. T, but he didn’t answer and I had to get to class, so I just bought it. It was the first thing we had ever purchased without talking about first. Mr. T loved the skirt when I got home and was excited for the deal I found. But more importantly, we had a talk about being open about purchases and how we were in this together.

Money and sex are taboo topics, but both should be discussed in marriage. If you’re not willing to take off your clothes with money, it may keep you from any other undressing in the marriage! Don’t take that risk! 


 

Accountability Friday: Last Friday through yesterday:

F(es)-No – still sick, M(ex)-yes!, T(Cam)-No – forgot, W(Ex)-No – forgot, Th(Cam)-Yes – Man, miss a week and you forget everything!

Sex and Money

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32 Comments

  1. What a powerful read. This is so true of so many couples. Unfortunately, no one ever really knows for sure if they are in this exact situation. We trust that we aren’t. That’s the best we can do. Despite the stats saying 70% of people would dump their partner if they discovered a similar situation, in reality, my bet is on that number being much lower. People say one thing and usually do another when actually presented with a crisis that could rip their family apart. But, that’s a topic for another post. One thing is for sure, Mr. Money Monster and I will be revisiting all of our single, and now joint accounts this weekend. We need to make sure everything is accounted for and we are on the same financial page…especially after tying the knot a few weeks ago. Thanks for making me think today! 🙂

    Mrs. Money Monster

    • MaggieBanks

      Now’s a perfect time to get it all on the table and make sure you know where you stand for real. Not knowing the whole story can be detrimental to your joint goals. Time for a… financial date night! 🙂

  2. a woman

    well, I have an economy account. And my husband too. I don’t know how much he has there. He doesn’t know how much I have.
    We didn’t care.

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m not saying combining all accounts is necessarily the way to go for all marriages (though it has worked well for ours), but if you don’t know the whole story of your finances, you won’t know where you stand toward your combined financial goals.

  3. I’ve spent over $500 without telling Mrs. SSC and I know she’s done the same. The big difference is that it came from our allowance fund and if it builds up then, whatever, it’s “your free money”. Although I think Mrs. SSC has an investment account linked to hers that is now up to about $8k after 7 yrs of investing allowance in it… Eye roll… So exciting, lol. My biggest purchase was surprising her with a cruise, for an anniversary, which was about $1100. I got her mom to agree to watch the kids for a whole weekend and it was our first non kid trip without both kids.
    Everyone’s situation is different though. If we are talking about non-allowance money, then yeah, we pretty much discuss any purchase over $50. I’m sure Mrs. SSC would never expect I’d have secret money because I really suck at not spending money, especially if I notice I have a lot saved up. All in all we’re pretty “naked” with each other financially. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Our gifts come from our allowance money as well, so those are okay secrets assuming they will come to light eventually. But a secret cruise? Awesome. Doesn’t it feel great to be financially naked in your marriage? 🙂

      • Totally! And even the big purchases come to light, usually when they show up at the house, lol. I just don’t feel the need to consult before purchasing. 🙂 At the beginning though, it wasn’t as easy because my “naked” was ugly, ugly, ugly to the point of embarrassing. Not anymore, but it was awkward back then.

        • MaggieBanks

          But you grew together in that awkward stage. If you found out about the awkward stage later, you would feel like you never really knew eachother.

  4. I believe all couples should be aware of their financial situation. Too many have no clue what type of financial situation they are in and that is just scary!

    • MaggieBanks

      If you don’t know all the details, you don’t know where you stand. Too many couples just don’t talk about money at all… which is why they don’t have a handle on finances. Open discussion changes things for the better – then you can get on the same page!

  5. Yes, this is fantastic! Intimacy doesn’t just encompass the physical, but the many depths of the relationship – including finances. Reading this post reminds me of a conversation I just had yesterday with one of my co-workers. He told me that after marriage finances get complicated & will lead to tension no matter what. I just stared at him blankly and said politely, “No, I didn’t necessarily believe that.” Reasons being – my fiancé & I have been incredibly open, honest & transparent about our finances. We are aware of how many accounts we each have, and even the building blocks of how we established our credit & started our 401(k)s. We do not “officially” have a joint account, but we already operate as if we do. We make most purchases jointly, but if there is something one of us wants to buy independently we talk to the other first to determine ways we can get the best deal, or how the item/experience will increase value for us, or the people we care about. I am so glad you wrote this post – it is so important for couples to strip down with their finances!

    • MaggieBanks

      Marital finances only get complicated because you both show up to the marriage with your own financial state and your own ideas about money and now you have to work together. But you actually have somoene that is on your side completely and someone working toward the same thing as you! That’s exciting!

  6. Great point, we have a joint account and we share all financial transactions to each other. Transparency is very important in marriage.

    • MaggieBanks

      Amen, brother. Lies in any marriage leads to distrust and more problems.

    • Same with us. We have joint accounts and with Mint, no transaction goes unseen. And we pull credit reports when we file taxes (we read each other’s to ensure no credit funny business is missed). We’ve been functioning this way for so long, I don’t see us changing. After reading the Business Insider story last week, I’m super glad we didn’t have to deal with that kind of financial infidelity!

      • MaggieBanks

        Seriously. Aren’t things so much easier and better when you’re just totally honest. Transparency in marriage is awesome. I don’t want to think Mr. T in his silent ways is leading some secret life. 🙂

  7. I agree completely. I think it’s so important to disclose all your financial “secrets.” Like you and your husband, I think my partner and I are lucky that we met so young (19 and 20!) so we’ve navigated the adult world together and worked on our money beliefs as a team. However, I don’t think we’ll ever go to fully joint accounts. I think that when we combine finances in the future, we’ll always have some money that is set aside each month and is ours to do whatever we want with. I don’t think checking in about every purchase could work for me tbh. We are both are pretty independent people and I think for us, it would feel too much like having a parent, haha. Having said that, I know every couple is SO different, so I’m very glad to hear that it works for you 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      We don’t check in anymore before purchasing. We have allowances that are just for us and for things our family needs, we trust eachother. We do still discuss purchases over $100. As my husband says, “I’ve made purchases without you knowing, but then the package comes and it’s not a secret anymore!” Also, I do all the financial tracking, so I know all the credit card spending happening. 🙂

  8. All about trust and communication with money or sex. 🙂 Having an open and honest conversation about both make them both better in your relationship.

    • MaggieBanks

      But it’s so awkward to talk about both. Better have a good, open communication in marriage! 🙂

  9. My wife and I have always been very “financially faithful” as you might say. When we first got married, we realized that it was a bit much to “clear” EVERY purchase with each other. In time, we developed a concept we call annual “Sunshine Funds” – individual fun money that we can spend with no questions asked. The Sunshine Funds started as just a few hundred dollars, and now are a few thousand annually. We keep a list of what luxuries or unnecessaries they go towards and settle up at the end of the year. If one person didn’t spend their whole amount, they can carryover a balance to the next year. It’s worked well for us.

    • MaggieBanks

      We have a similar thing with our allowances, but they are much much smaller. 🙂

  10. Hi Maggie – I can’t agree more.
    Before my wife and I got married, we had opened a joint bank account for all things like electricity, rent, internet… I guess it helped us work together on finances. After we got married, we actually moved all our income and spend onto our common account: pay-checks and credit cards were all coming in and out of the same account for total transparency.
    We also track finances from all our accounts on a google spreadsheet and review the changes every month.
    It’s a little scary at first, but eventually it built an enormous amount of trust in how we manage our finances and how effectively we now manage them.!

    • MaggieBanks

      We use google spreadsheets fo oru budget too! Then we have access to them on our phones, computers, etc. It’s fabulous! And if we’re buying eachother presents, we just say “don’t check this credit card statement this month.”

  11. This definitely is right in line with that article I tweeted about the other day. “Suprise honey… thanks for marrying me but that $15k in loans you thought I had is really $90k – SUCKER!” I think being open and honest about all aspects of life (money and sex included) is key to a strong relationship. Luckily my girlfriend and myself have no issues divulging any info, as nobody likes surprises.

    • MaggieBanks

      We like surprises if they involve people giving us things. 🙂 But even then, we like a bit of a hint ahead of time. But no other surprises are fun.

  12. It’s funny the assumptions we come into a relationship with. When we first combined our finances, we each thought we needed some measure of “financial privacy,” and gave ourselves each an allowance and a small discretionary fund for inscrutable purchases. But because we have always had natural honesty with each other, we found in only a year or two that we didn’t actually need that privacy, and did away with the allowance and personal funds. I’m sure we took that honesty for granted, but now are super grateful to have it!

    • MaggieBanks

      We were sort of the opposite. We wanted to try to keep things fair and such before we actually tied the knot. “So, who’s going to pay for the marriage license?” But we were thrilled when we could combine our lives and our finances and when it was all legal and we didn’t have to deal with all that “fairness” anymore because we were a team. 🙂

  13. Interesting post Maggie. It’s not only dishonest but it would be hurtful to discover such a thing. Thanks for an interesting read!

    Laura Beth

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Laura Beth! I can’t even imagine having to deal with that in a marriage. Secrets can’t be good in that situation.

  14. Awesome analogy! I’ve also found that collaborating on your goals and attack plans can nourish a relationship. I think that our marriage became stronger once we found a new vision for our life, giving us combined purpose and the drive to work together as a team.

    • MaggieBanks

      The combined purpose totally works for making you into a team. I love it! Marriage should be two people working together. That’s why we got married! 🙂

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