Dear Dave: I don't hide debt from my spouse, but I do hide money from her. I've been squirreling away money for emergencies without her knowledge. She's not terrible with money, but she always finds something to spend it on. We were never able to save anything before I started doing this. After hearing you talk about "financial infidelity," I began to worry about her reaction when she finds out I've been doing this. What's your advice?
I think you have every reason to worry. Not just about her reaction, but what this represents in your marriage. I believe in saving up for emergencies. I mean, I'm Mr. Emergency Fund. I talk all the time about saving up three to six months of expenses. But deception is never a positive thing in a relationship. You've got to man up and tell her.
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I know this won't be easy, and you have to make sure you tell her in the right way. Don't try to blame this on her. Basically, you've deceived her about this, and your lying isn't her fault. Let her know that you're sorry for not being honest with her, but you also need to explain that the reason you hid the money was you were afraid to speak up and disagree. Ask for her forgiveness, and let her know you're committed to never letting it happen again.
At the same time, you've got to grow a backbone so you can let her know when you've got a problem. Managing money in a marriage is a "we" thing. Decisions should always be made together. It means you each have a vote, but it also means you have to stand up and vote no if she wants to spend money on something silly when you guys haven't taken care of business!