How to Recover When You Find Your Spouse Is Hiding Debt

hiding debt from a spouseWhether it’s stumbling upon a mysterious credit card statement in the mail, running your credit report and finding a lot of unexplained debt, or – even worse – being on the receiving end of a completely unexpected collections call, finding out that your partner has accumulated debt that you knew nothing about can be devastating.

Not only is hiding debt from a spouse a deceit that often comes with major financial repercussions, it can also cause deep-seated trust issues that threaten the integrity of your relationship.  Because nothing eats away at the foundation of a marriage like dishonesty.

But while hiding debt from a spouse other is never a good thing, it does happen – and many couples have worked through the issue.

If you recently discovered that unexplained debt can be traced back to your partner, you might be wondering what to do now.  While it’s a deeply personal situation, there are a few actions that couples in just this kind of situation have taken to help restore trust and gradually work through the accompanying financial fallout.

Follow all of these steps – or just the ones that apply to your situation – and let us know how it goes.

Express Your Disappointment
It’s okay to get mad; it’s not okay to get even. Wait until you’re feeling calm, and let your spouse know how you really feel. Saying something that describes YOUR feelings is always better than pointing fingers and blaming your partner. For example: “I’m feeling so betrayed and disappointed about this. I thought we were completely honest and open with each other. I’m really hurt.”

Dig deepter
Why would your partner apply for debt you know nothing about? Is he feeling choked by the budget? Are you just a little too controlling when it comes to the finances? Is he out of work with too much time and not enough cash? In an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, see if you can get to the bottom of why this happened. Keep in mind that the truth may be painful.

Brainstorm solutions
If you’re on the same page, do it together. If this is a problem you’re facing alone, whether your partner feels no need to fix it or for whatever other reason, sit down and come up with possible financial solutions.

Plan regular budget meetings
Keep an eye on your own credit history, and resolve to work out the issues. It might be a good idea to apply for a credit card and agree to use only that card. When the bill comes, sit down together and make sure you’re both comfortable with what’s being charged.

Set spending limits
It may make you feel like a kid, but there’s nothing wrong with each partner having a set amount of cash you’ve agreed on that you can spend, for which you’re not accountable. Even if it’s just $50-100 a month, there’s a freedom in money that has no purpose other than your own enjoyment.

Separate Your Credit Cards
If all else fails, make it clear that your husband’s credit cards are his alone, and you’ll only be responsible for your joint accounts.

We all mess up sometimes. Don’t let your partner’s indiscretion spoil the other areas of your life together. Give yourself time to stew, work out the details, and then get on with your life together – as a team.

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