moneyThis just in. I've never stepped outside with another man (or another woman for that matter), and I wouldn't consider it. But it turns out I've been cheating on my husband for years now without even knowing it. 

How have I done it? Money. I hide it. All around our house. In fits of "financial infidelity," I'm apparently betraying the very core of our marriage.

It's fairly common -- a Harris Interactive online poll of 2,019 adults released this month shows 31 percent of American couples with combined finances were financially unfaithful. They lie about hidden cash or extra bank accounts, extravagant purchases, and other credit cards.

Nothing like being part of the crowd to make you feel better. I'm one of three in every 10 Americans. I'm not a freak! And yet, the word infidelity is stuck in my craw. I'm not a freak, sure, but if the warnings out of the National Endowment for Financial Education are to be believed, I'm risking everything we've been working for since we said "I do."

They think I'm a bad wife. I say I'm just protecting our marriage.

Because my husband sucks with money. Raised by two parents who had absolutely no financial sense at all, he has none himself. He sees something, he wants something, he buys something, and there is no pause in between each action for reflection. There's never a question of whether he needs something, truly needs it. I've talked to him and talked to him and talked to him until I was blue in the face, but it's all to no avail.

I love him dearly, would never leave him -- or cheat on him in a sexual sense. I'm not leaving this marriage. I blame his parents for not teaching him better money management skills, but I also blame them for passing on a genetic predisposition to forgo planning at every stage. They created a kind, loving son. But they also created a money monster.

I wish I had seen it before we were married. But we were both poor college students at the time. We had no money and therefore there was no money to waste. Combining our finances -- or lack thereof -- seemed appropriate at the time of marriage. And now I'm paying for it, quite literally.

So when talking doesn't work, when you still love your spouse, what do you do? The bills have to be covered. The emergency fund has to be there. The markers of responsible financial planning have to be met so we have a house today and in 20 years. I hide money from him to do all that and more. I hide money from him to protect our futures.

According to the "experts," I'm the bad guy here. He of the $400 item because I just had to have it, even though there are three more in the closet, is being open and honest about his financial foibles. And I'm the cheater.

So yes, I cheat on my husband every day. But I do it because I love him too much to do otherwise.

Do you ever think it's OK to lie to your spouse?

 

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