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My Spouse Cheated On Me Financially. Is This More Devastating Than A Physical Affair?

Financial infidelity — the misdirection, concealment or theft of marital funds — is depressingly common.  What would you do if this happen to you ?  Read The Girlfriend story here:

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HMU i wanna make sure if i find true love here 

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While married to exh2, I had to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Two months after being discharged (paid in full), D-Day then subsequent abandonment.

Four years later, that's 48 months, he's paid child support without fail about 26 of those months.

Those financial strains during those lean months --- one stretch he went about 10 months straight without paying me a dime. 

The financial stress after abandonment is way worse than the emotional strain at times.

Worrying about me is one thing, but worrying about food and shelter for my child? Worse.

The things that got me through was my steady income, some payday loans that I could reloan each month, and a lot of faith and some very good friends.

It took using the state's child support enforcement office free of charge to get him to start paying again.

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This is a much smaller scale than Sheila, but when I got divorced due cheating, my ex-husband and I owed about $15,000 to the IRS. The primary reason for this is because he took a large amount of money out of his retirement account (long story, but all a result of his cheating) and owed penalties and taxes. When I wised up and realize how foolish I was being, I filed for innocent spouse relief with the IRS and after I made my case I WON! He is now completely responsible for the debt.

My wife of 16 years cheating on me with other men and the reveal and subsequent divorce were devestating emotionally for me.

However, that was NOTHING compared to the financial devastation caused by her financial infidelity the consequences I still deal with today 7 years later.

Besides cheating on me with other men, she financed this behavior by stealing marital funds. I travelled constantly at the time for my work and foolishly trusted her with our money and the paying of bills and did not run credit checks. Thus I had no idea that she had run up $50,000 in credit card bills almost all of it in my name where she forged my signature.


My excellent credit was ruined and I had to sell almost all of my assets to pay all of the debt off. As she planned all of this well and knew that I could not charge her with fraud and send the mother of my three children to jail, this was all "my" debt so basically she got off scott free in the divorce and I got taken to the cleaners.

So today, I drive my old 11 year old car while she drives a brand new expensive SUV and lives high on the hog with the Other Man that she was cheating on me with along with my three kids.

Besides child support and alimony she also cashed in half of my 401k and has had a ball with the money. Meanwhile this has pushed out the age that I can retire by at least 5 to 10 years.


As bad as sexual infidelity is, it is NOTHING compared to financial infidelity the consequences which can last years and wipe you out financially.



I wouldn't say it is more devastating but probably more of a precursor to an affair and/or a symptom of poor character in general. My ex absolutely cheated on me financially during our marriage: some things I knew about (and should never have accepted, like not being given the login info to the bill-paying service, having a notification of $5 set-up on my spending sent to his email), some things I found out during the divorce procedure (we actually paid his mother's mortgage on a brand new house, he also gave her the money I should have received as a mother from a family/ children allocation given by the local government, he had multiple hidden accounts and secret credit cards, he routinely kept a chunk of our tax return, I was not the primary beneficiary on his life insurance, neither were our kids...)
I wanted to know about our finances, I wanted to learn and be involved but he always deflected when I would start that conversation. Everytime he required a signature, I would ask for information, so it's not like I was glad he wasn't sharing the information
I finally initiated the divorce because I found out he was also cheating. 
In both instances, I was being lied to, abused. That's what it comes down to.

While physical infidelity devastated me and my life’s dream, the financial infidelity made it much more difficult to move on successfully.  Secret credit cards were uncovered as well as large tax bills.  Although I had opened my own bank accounts and we had “split” the bills for several years before being divorced due to his financial inconsistency and irresponsibility, I was still held responsible for the tax bills several years after. We had continued to file taxes jointly while married but, unbeknownst to me, he had cashed in his 401k over two years but did not report this to our tax preparers. Of course, he was caught by the IRS. At that point, we were divorcing.  I filed an innocent spouse relief form but was denied because part of the process includes asking the OTHER spouse (him) whether or not I benefited from the returns. Want to guess his response?  So, on top of being reduced to one income, very little child support (both kids were nearing 18), the loss of our home (couldn’t afford it on one income plus he had moved in with his mistress NEXT DOOR), and no access to half of his 401k as a bargaining chip, I also was responsible for the tax bill. The IRS does not care what your divorce decree states and will seize future refunds and garnish pay. In a way, that betrayal was more difficult because it lingered after the divorce and affected my ability to get ahead financially. 


I’ve got your girlfriend story beat and my ex was no bond trader just a grease monkey mechanic wannabe( wasn’t even licensed). He put $500k of our line of credit money in his business on the basis of having the stock( cars for sale) to cover it. By the time I figured out that was a lie the money was gone. He stole jewelry, my vehicles ( in the company name for insurance reasons), money he was paid for the customer list when I made him close his shop rather than losing everything, he made me pay off business debts saying he needs to protect his reputation. I figure I have lost about $350000 of my own share of our assets and still has to pay him to get rid of him. Out of about 1.3 million in equity he got at least $800000but has very little to show for it. He is a long term con man fooling me into believing he loved me all of those years while he cheated and stole his children’s inheritance and my retirement. He has moved on to the next sugar mamma a woman with a child less than half the age of his own grown children a rich daddy good job and her own house( score!!!). We are completely no contact I removed the toxic sludge from my life. The devastation is life changing. I am driving a school bus and renting part of my house to get by. The abuse bled into my business and it is just about done too. I can’t retire unless I sell my house. I am trying to be grateful for what I do have but it’s hard sometimes. 


I'd also add, the way the teaser is framed -- which is worse, being chumped romantically or financially? -- it all sucks. It's not the pain olympics. And unfortunately, the two experiences often go together. (Double lives cost money.)


I had both happen to me in a previous marriage. Both are violations. Money can be re-earned, replaced, trust in partners, bouncing back after such a betrayal is a bit harder IMO, but can be overcome. (After you dump the jerk!)

I think it is a fallacy to label all women 50+ as not engaged in their finances. Even if you are fully engaged in financial matters, financial infidelity can happen, and does. Most women are engaged with their household finances but there are ways around this when a spouse is not honest and is deceitful. It is very easy for an employee to take out/borrow from their company's 401K without the spouses knowledge. It's easy to transfer assets as an employee and also change medical insurance coverage to their benefit and to the loss of the other spouse. It's also easy to change your tax status/withholding to one spouses benefit over another. It's easy to electronically or otherwise sign off for the spouse on the forms.  Also, spouses know common passwords, mother's maiden names, SS#, even elementary schools, the street you grew up on in second grade... all those little details many accounts require you to enter before giving access to accounts. 

Honored Social Butterfly

@CarolynnM749177 wrote:

I think it is a fallacy to label all women 50+ as not engaged in their finances. Even if you are fully engaged in financial matters, financial infidelity can happen, and does. >>


I don't see anywhere where anyone labeled "all" women 50+ as no engaged.  I think they may be less engaged than younger women, though.

All of your points have merit to a point, but thorough regular reviewing of finances will show any of the ways a spouse might try to circumnavigate his spouse's knowledge of the true status of things.  


Women should take stock of all of their assets (they would need that for an attorney anyway) and make regular checks on everything.  It would not be hard, just time consuming but not a bad idea.  If a spouse of the main breadwinner is at all suspicious than definitely get going on checking.



Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
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Honored Social Butterfly

My understanding of this situation, as a generalization, is that women traditionally leave all the financial decisions to the man. There is no reason why women cannot fully participate in looking at income, expenses, paying bills, saving, and making investment decisions, etc.

   The example given in this story is a bond trader husband which definitely complicates matters. But that isn't the norm. 'Everyday couples' should both be sitting down discussing the finances regularly.  

"...Why is everyone a victim? Take personal responsibility for your life..."

This "financial cheating" usually goes hand in hand with his other cheating.  I am a CPA and managed our marital finances for 35 years.  I always trusted him and thought that we were always on the same financial page.  Unfortunately there is little control over someone attempting to hide and steal from you.  Opening P.O. boxes, hiding cash in a secret safe deposit box and setting up an "affair"  account where no statements were sent to the house.  Using this affair account for Wednesday night dinners with "her" and withdrawls for his newly acquired compulsive gambling habit.  Even went so far as to forge his name on my car title.  Yes, all of this was done without my knowledge or suspicion.  So hard to figure this out when we are not a part of the PLAN.


Sometimes, we are just victims!


Hi, I'm the author of the piece. I don't think story is generalizing that women leave money decisions to men. However, it is a story geared toward women (The Girlfriend). In any marriage anyone can be chumped, man or woman. All it takes to be cheated on is trust. We don't control other people if they choose to behave unethically.


We do choose how we will respond, which is why it's good to know some strategies if this awful thing ever happens to you or someone you care about. Of course, prevention is good too -- it's not fool-proof (again, trust makes anyone vulnerable) -- but full transparency in all things financial goes a long way.

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Women of my generation and younger do not leave financial decisions to the man. My mother born in 1928 paid all the bills, and saved tens of thousands in her name. She taught me about interests rates. When I was young, and CD certificates were at 9-10%, she took me to the bank and established my first account. By the time I was 25, I had 35,000 saved thanks to the interest rate. I used that to buy my first home, in 1994, for 184K.

My father, born in 1929, had an aunt, I'd assume born in the 1800s. She had 25K in her estate when she died. She gave each of her nieces/nephews 5K. My father used that to buy the home I grew up in. By the time he was 35, it was mortgage free, thanks in all to Aunt Annie.

Now, my own children once they are 16, have their own retirement accounts they contribute to already. I wouldn't have this legacy, knowledge or empowerment and neither would my children had it now been for a women born in the 1800 and my mother born in 1929.

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