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Keeping money secrets from your partner can end up ruining your relationship. Financial Infidelity can be as bad as having an affair with someone – it erodes trust and when there is no trust, your relationship pretty much falls apart.

Trust it a key component to any relationship whether that be personal or professional. When our trust is broken it can have all sorts of repercussions and even lead to a divorce / break-up.

Finances or money matters is one of the top 5 problems that couples often argue about and end up getting divorced over which is why couples should have these difficult conversations early on in their relationship.

Why are finances such a sensitive issue to touch on in relationships?

From a very young age we are taught not to talk about money (e.g. never tell anyone what you are earning). We also seldom have money discussions at home, more than often it’s a heated discussion or argument. Seldom do our parents include us in money discussions as it’s seen as “ädult talk” and our first experience of money is usually related to pocket money earned through chores. As a result, money conversations are usually experienced as awkward conversations which we tend to avoid.

When and how should couples start talking about money?

Couples should start talking about finances and money issues early on in their relationship as to what each other’s expectations are when it comes to money matters (e.g. who pays or do we go dutch when we are out on a date?). It is even more important to talk about finances when a couple is looking to take their relationship to that next level such as moving in together or getting married.

Start with the basics such as drawing up a household budget and agree on how each one will contribute to the everyday costs relative to their income and personal expenses. Once a couple is settled in their relationship and committed to each other for the long term, they should be having more serious discussions such as medical insurances, policies and Wills based on their lifestyle and aspirations.

How can money secrets potentially harm or hurt a relationship?

Keeping secrets from your partner can have major repercussions such as causing a lot of hurt and pain, resulting in trust issues, and depending on the severity of the situation, can also impact one’s credit history resulting in black listing, repossession of goods, insurmountable debt and more.

It is irresponsible to make financial decisions or money choices without discussing them with your partner, especially where they involve large ticket items such as a car, household appliances, a property etc. The risk of defaulting on these items can impact your partner especially if you are living together or are married.

If you struggle to have these kinds of conversations, get a third party such as a therapist or financial advisor to help facilitate these discussions and guide you both on making decisions that feel right and fair for the both of you and how to have these conversations going forward

This topic was also discussed on SAFM Radio in an interview with Sechaba Gqeba, listen to our discussion here.

Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert in Johannesburg. She teaches individuals and organisations how to cultivate healthy relationships at home and in the workplace to create a human connected world. Paula is also the author of 2 self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No as well as an international speaker and advocate for mental health and against gender-based violence. For more info:  www.paulaquinsee.com